instant gratification: the disease of now
It’s no secret that we live in a time where we as humans want what we want and we want it now. Our lives are so fast pace that we don’t have time to wait for our food, shopping items, entertainment, ect... This makes sense when you think of fast food, Amazon prime, and streaming movies illegally online. They are all very profitable business’ with consumers basically sacrificing their first born and demanding more. Money has less value than our time. If you think about it, this could be a good thing. We could use that time we saved for something of higher value. Unfortunately, more often than not, we drive through the closest fast food line just to sit at home scrolling through our Instagram feed for hours on end. We are all aware of this. We all give in to this, some of us every day. But I want to focus on a form of instant gratification that we may not notice. This sort of instant gratification is so normal that it dehumanizes us and we don’t realize what we are missing out on.
Let me ask you this, when you get dinner with a friend or loved one, where is your phone? Is it sitting on the table? Face up or face down? You may be asking yourself what does this have to do with instant gratification. Well, let me tell you. Being someone who is sensitive and time is my love language, I enjoy sitting with someone and having meaningful conversations, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of joe. The reason we have our phones on the table isn’t that we are addicted to technology or social media (although that is the case for some) it’s because we are always on the look-out for instant affirmation or entertainment. The person sitting across from us is Plan A, and the phone is Plan B. When the conversation dies down or it doesn’t feed our selfish ears, we refresh our notifications. Sometimes the person sitting across from us we truly love, we really do enjoy their company, but we’ve been so conditioned to eat up any kind of “instant gratification” even if it’s in the form of a text, like, email from your annoying boss, or alarm you forgot to turn off. Where does this place the health of basic human connection? How does instant gratification taint the human psyche? Is this topic really worth this much analyzing? (yes.)
I recently watched this movie called Cloud Atlas. It’s a long movie and definitely not going to be a crowd favorite, (ironically because it’s 3 hours long and that brings us back to instant gratification….we can’t sit that long on one storyline.) The main theme of the movie was that our lives are not our own. That we are meant to live every moment of every day for others. No matter the pain we feel, situations we may be in. Human connection supersedes our selfish desires. It was a great film and really got me thinking. Just a couple weeks before seeing this movie I had coffee with a friend who brought this up. That conversation was the seed placed inside my mind, the movie is the water and every moment of contemplation from that point has been the growth, this post may be the flower? Who knows what it’s growing. It could be carrots for all I know.
We have become so conditioned to look at others as an opportunity to fill, entertain, affirm us in the most instant way possible. Whether you are happy and content with your life you have fallen into this trap as well. The phone was just one example but there are many more. How long can you spend sitting across from someone and have a conversation? Do you find yourself looking around the room at a party, or social gathering as if to see what else you could benefit from, or do you find others doing that? I have taken much time to observe this and like I said before, I may be the worst person to talk about this because I am sensitive, intuitive and driven by emotion. Regardless, this is hurtful. The person keeping their phone on the table or looking around the room for someone better to talk to is essentially a slap in the face. I can’t take it too personally though. We are conditioned to do so. How can I expect anyone not to when we have new iPhones and feeds in our face every five minutes?
If you ask me, I see the need to seek after instant gratification as a sign that we are not focused on the eternal, and that’s just it. As that shows as the problem, it’s also the solution. The solution for immediate fulfillment is to focus on the eternal. The things that will last, stay with you forever, leave a mark on you for a long time. Those are the things that we neglect day today and then we wonder why it’s a new year yet we don’t feel so “new.” If you feel your friendships/relationships are lacking something I challenge you to leave the phone in your car, to take a break from the things that feed your “now desires” and work on investing in the people/things that will be there even after someone unfollows you.
Challenge yourself to stay focused and patient in every conversation you have with someone. Don’t look around the room, look at them. Listen to them. Respond to what you heard them say. Slow down, don’t be in a rush and watch your connections flourish. It may not even be a magical moment for you, but maybe it’s for them, and that’s okay too. We were put on this earth not to live a selfish life but a selfless life. Walk into this new year open to new friendships, relationships and meaningful connections with those around you. Step back from your distractions and into the magical moments that can last a lifetime.