The Death of Delayed Gratification

“Patience is a virtue” is the old proverbial adage that trumpets the necessity and seeming benefit of delayed gratification.

Sadly, that adage holds little to no heft in our current society, in which everything is instantaneous. We are living in the microwave generation. I love macaroni and cheese, especially when it is done as a pie. On many of Sundays, I would anticipate the warm deliciousness of my mom’s mac and cheese. It took her time to cook it; she had to boil the water, let the macaroni cook, and then put in a baking dish that required some time in the oven. Only after being patient could I enjoy the meal. And then instant Mac came along, and one could experience mac and cheese within two minutes as long as one had water and a microwave. Hence, the term the microwave generation; everything is quick and instant.

Waiting? What is this foreign concept of which you speak?

Additionally, the rise of the internet has changed the way we, as a society, gather and obtain knowledge. I remember getting into arguments with friends, in the past, and we had to wait until we got to the library or encountered a more knowledgeable source before we could decide who was right. Now, disagreements are settled by the person with the smartest of smart phones, who can quickly access google or wikipedia.

Similarly, I remember the days when a relative would take a picture of the family, and we had to wait for days, sometimes even months, before we saw the picture. Regardless of how much time passed, there was an excitement present and palpable when one saw the envelope from the photo shop. Nowadays, with the technology of a digital camera, we are able to view the picture right away. With this added advantage, we are able to decide right then and there if the picture is worthy to be saved or deleted. Vain, much? Sidenote: How many of you have physical copies of recent pics? Or do all of your pictures reside on your unlimited memory card or one of those hosting sites like photobucket or Google’s picasa? Just curious.

Netflix, Hula, and other sites have revolutionized the way that we watch tv and movies as well. I know a few of my friends who do not watch live TV because their favorite show is conveniently available on their DVR so that they can watch the episodes when and where they want. I too am complicit; I love the show “Modern Family,” but cannot tell you when it comes on network television. Still I watch each episode when I want via an ABC app. Gone are the days of waiting for TGFI’s line up. Gone are the days of anticipating the new episodes of your favorite sitcom or drama. Gone are the days of re-watching the show’s reruns until you saw that episode that you missed.

More specifically, caller id has changed the way we interact. True, it can help you avoid those annoying calls from bill collectors or random spam industries. If you do not want to speak with someone, you can give them the “look-off” and act like you didn’t hear your phone ring or vibrate. But, do you remember the days waiting for that phone call from that special someone. When you heard the phone ring, you were hoping that it was him or her or them. Gone. Similarly, gone are the days when you had to speak to someone’s mother or father to ask permission to speak to their son or daughter. I’m positive that their are people that have never had to speak to an adult in order to get to chat with their friends because their friend has a cell phone. I won’t even breach the topic of how text messages, sexting and all, has changed the way we communicate our affection and love. As a result, sex has too become more instantaneous. Dates? Phone calls? Take your time to be involved in a serious relationship before the bedroom boogie?

Waiting? What is this foreign concept of which you speak?

Pandora, Spotify, and ipods all have changed the way that we listen to music. One no longer has to wait to hear your favorite song play on the radio. You can just cue up your favorite playlist and let it rock whenever you want. Heck, now there’s a app for listening to other radio stations aside from your local stations.

This piece is not a nostalgic clamoring for the good ol’ days; I’m not that old yet. Rather it is a piece that questions what will happen to our society with the loss of delayed gratification, more specifically a loss of patience. Last example, I love pineapples, and I had some today. But the peak season for pineapples is in April and May, yet I can have them year round. While my stomach is satisfied, I question what, if anything, is being lost by our society making everything instantaneous.

What do you think?

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