We live in a world of instant gratification. It’s surrounding us.
There are drive-thru restaurants, coffee shops, liquor stores, banks, and equipment repair stations. You drive up, place your order, and within ten minutes or less, you have your product. Instantly, your needs are met. We have immediate access to technology. We have the internet at our fingertips, almost everywhere we go. You can pull up a YouTube video on the train to work, or stream a movie when your child is misbehaving at the doctor’s office. We have access to communication that lets us interact with people all over the world – for free – whenever we want. Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram. I have two separate friends who met the loves of their lives on Instagram. In DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. Crazy? Absolutely! Incredible? You’re darn right. Romantic? Ummm, duh.
The point is, it’s all immediate. Aside from waiting to meet your soul mate as they travel around the globe, we have access to a world that is right under our noses. Which can be a beautiful thing. Parents can meet their newborn children while serving their country in foreign wars. A post on Twitter can help Mark Ruffalo find his cell phone in NYC within twenty minutes of losing it. Friendships can be created with people you never would have met in day to day life.
But there is a flip side to a world of instant gratification. We get greedy. We get impatient. We get irritated quickly. I find myself regularly sighing with malcontent when my Pandora station takes forever to load the next song. I get annoyed when someone doesn’t text me back quickly. I get frustrated when my GoogleMaps directs me to the wrong location. “No Siri! I do not want to be at McDonald’s in China! I’m in Portland! UGH!”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that despite the convenience, instant gratification is ruining my life, and this is how:
1. My health is suffering.
How many Pinterest pins start with “Lose ten pounds in ten days!”? How many infomercials have ads for supplements that will help you “Get rid of that problem area in two weeks or less!”? There are wraps, pills, shakes and even cookies to help you hit your goal weight. These ‘Get Skinny Quick’ diets are ruining our bodies. They are denying the nutrition we need to survive. They are creating an unhealthy lifestyle where our bodies can fluctuate so drastically, which takes it’s toll. It’s also creating a downward-spiraling body image issue. If you are unsuccessful at losing that ten pounds in ten days, are you more likely to jump on a treadmill to work even harder or are you likely to binge that pint of leftover ice cream in your freezer? Because we expect the immediate change we’re accustomed to, giving up happens quite frequently. If we ARE successful with these schemes, they don’t last. Unfortunately, the real way to make the fix is the hard way, the drawn out way, but the successful way: making the healthy life choices of clean eating and exercise.
2. My dating life is a mess.
Dating is not dead, it has just morphed into this ugly monster of instant gratification. You meet at a party, this cute guy gets your number, he texts you an invite to come over and watch a movie, you make out or whatever it may be, you leave, you don’t get a text until next time he wants to “watch a movie.” There is even a term for this type of hookup…. Netflix and Chill. (Barf. Why ruin the sanctity of Netflix?!) What happened to putting time into getting to know someone? What happened to grabbing coffee or dinner and learning what her favorite movie is, or her favorite author? Hook-up culture is something that is more common than dating these days. I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place for this, because there definitely can be, but I don’t feel like it should be the norm. Our culture of instant gratification is to blame for that. Be patient. Get to know people. Date, like a real date. Put in the effort. Please.
3. My concept of time is seriously screwed up.
When we are immediately granted our needs, life moves at an increasingly fast pace. Every iPhone update includes, “Faster This” and “Streamlined That.” Therefore, when something takes two minutes to load instead of twelve seconds, we flip out. We get frustrated. We complain. When someone takes an hour to text you back, we take it personally. We get frustrated. We complain. Our time consciousness is off because we are so used to getting things right away. It’s the ultimate first world problem. We lose the gratitude for all that we have access to and get angry over the little time inconveniences.
So yes, instant gratification is ruining my life, but I have the power to stop that. I have the power to be patient, to put in effort, to have grace, to have compassion, to get to know people, to get to know myself. I will not expect things. I will live in the moment. And I will remind myself of these things when I’m frustrated at Netflix, or at someone who cancels plans last-minute.
I will be full of gratitude, even if something doesn’t come instantaneously.