Tuesday, September 9, 2014 | By: HiDee

The Culture of Instant Gratification

I have a love/hate relationship with technology.

I embrace the computer, but don’t have a smart phone – mainly because I refuse to pay the price.  In my area, one month of a smart phone costs approximately three times what I currently pay for one month of internet access.  I’m not denying there are times a smart phone would be convenient, but I’ve also seen how addictive it can be.  I enjoy having downtime from electronics, and I don’t want to be attached at the hip, or hand, or ear.

I like my Kindle, but I love the feel of a paperback book in my hands.  My Kindle is great for having untold numbers of books readily accessible, as long as I have battery life.  It’s taken the place of a smart phone when I’ve spent hours sitting in hospital waiting rooms, or waited in the van for soccer practices to end.  But there’s a different connection with a paperback book in my hands.  The texture of the paper, the motion of turning the page... it’s just so easy to get lost in a book!
The internet makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends far away, which I love, but I hate how people sometimes hide behind the relative anonymity it offers.  That’s a hypocritical statement, because sometimes I crave the anonymity as well.

But my biggest issue with technology today is the culture of instant gratification it has created.  Many people can’t function without checking their email or social media sites constantly.  Instead of face-to-face conversations, they communicate in short bursts via texting, Facebook or Twitter.  Companies exploit their clients to generate more sales by promising products that are faster than their rivals, and consumers buy into it because they crave even more immediacy.

“The unmistakable message people receive in both the workplace and marketplace is that faster is better,” writes Ronald Alsop, a freelance journalist and book author as well as longtime reporter and editor for The Wall Street Journal.  His article, Instant Gratification & Its Dark Side, explores the effect of technology on the millennial generation (those born during the 1980s and 1990s).

Unfortunately, in the quest for instant gratification, it is easy to forget that there are real people on the other end.  Being compelled to comment or post something NOW causes people to simply react with words, rather than considering the effect their words may have on others.  That’s when we run into trouble.

I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to craving instant gratification, even without a smart phone.  I’m a social person so I like knowing what is going on, even though I don’t really need to know all the time.  There are times when my kids are more likely to converse through texts than they are in person, so I take advantage of that.  And yes, I enjoy some aspects of social media - it’s darned addicting!

That being said, when I participate in social media, I try to abide by some basic guidelines that I hope I have instilled in my own millenials:
– Don’t be rude.
– Think about your words.  How would they affect YOU if you were the intended recipient?
– Remember that what happens online stays online...forever.  It might come back to bite you.
– Sometimes you have to be the bigger person and just let things go.

Sometimes instant gratification is not all it’s cracked up to be!

How do you feel about technology and instant gratification?  Do you love it, or hate it?  Please share.

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