Instant Gratification

More and more we are living in an age of instant gratification.  Thanks to the Internet and our smart phones, we have oodles of information at our fingertips whenever we need it.  No one has to wait for Saturday morning cartoons anymore, since there are numerous channels that run cartoons all day long.  The anticipation of seeing holiday specials on TV isn’t there anymore, because we can buy them all on DVD.  If we can’t find something in the store, we can order it online and have it sent to the house.  Or better yet, we can skip going to the store altogether.  We don’t have to wait for a time when someone is available to talk on the phone.  We can send them a text or email and often get an immediate response.  We can comment on articles and social media posts and feel that instant gratification of being able to voice our opinion and engage in a “conversation” about the topic, heated or not.

Unfortunately, I believe this has affected our patience level and attention spans.  I think this is especially true for kids who don’t know any different than the way it is today.  We are not used to having to wait for most things, so when we do, it can be frustrating.  I also see kids who are so used to having so many ways at their fingertips to entertain themselves with electronics, that without them they are bored and can’t find a way to keep occupied or interact with others.  I also think this has made teachers’ jobs much more difficult because schoolwork isn’t nearly as entertaining as the kids’ electronics.  It’s hard to keep kids engaged in the learning process when they have shorter attention spans and are used to being entertained.

There is also this prevalent need to be “plugged in” and be doing something either on a computer, phone, or other electronic device.  It kills me to sit in a waiting room for an appointment, or anywhere else really, and look around to find every single person doing something on their phone or other hand held device, including all the kids.  What happened to sitting your kid or your lap and reading him or her a book to keep them entertained?  Or talking to the person next to you?  Or just sitting and reflecting? Or doing anything that involves interacting with the people who are with you?  It saddens me to see a child wanting their parent’s attention, but the parent can’t pull themselves away from their phone to interact with the child and give them that attention.  What is that telling the child about their importance and the importance of human interaction?  And how about people who are out to dinner together and are all on their phones?  I do my fair share of time on Facebook and texting, but I also know when to walk away because I value the face to face time with my friends and family.

We are connected more and less at the same time, more through electronics and less through personal interaction.  I really think the premise of the movie Wall-E isn’t too far off base, and that scares me.  The only way to prevent that from happening is for people to make a conscious choice to step away from all the things that give them instant gratification and focus on more personal interaction with people around them.

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