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Are You Affected By the Instant Gratification Society?

Our society, worldwide but especially in wealthier nations, can be called the ‘instant gratification society’. Are you affected by the instant gratification society? Be careful before you answer, “No.”

People have probably always wanted to do things the easiest and fastest way possible. There is nothing wrong with that and it makes perfect sense to approach our day-to-day situations in that manner. However, people very often go a little overboard, partly because we now have technology that often allows us to achieve instant gratification.

There are many examples that could be cited, but most technology is based on the goal of instant gratification. While we used to take an hour to cook something on a stove, we can now pop it in a microwave oven and nuke it for 10 minutes. We used to need to go someplace that had a phone in order to call someone. Now we carry our portable phones with us. 

Even computers are designed to be fast. One of the earliest computers I had (not the earliest, but one of the earliest) was a 286 computer that I put a 14.4 modem in. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, a 286 computer was a very slow dinosaur of a computer that didn’t have very much computing power and a 14.4 modem was a slow connection to the precursor of today’s Internet. At the time, that was a fast computer and modem, however, it was common for me to click to open a program and to literally go in and make myself a cup of coffee. By the time I returned, I felt fortunate if the program was loaded and open. 

Downloading a small picture often took 3-5 minutes or more. I remember being amazed at the speed when I upgraded to a 56k modem, which operated at less than a tenth of the speed my current high-speed cable connection operates with.

I currently use a dual-core computer that has a processor that’s many times faster than that old 286. Do I need it? No, but it is faster and easier and nice to have. Thus, I’m affected by the instant gratification society. In fact, my current computer isn’t especially fast by today’s standards.

Are you affected by the instant gratification society? Are you part of it? To answer these questions, think about these other questions:

* Do you ever get impatient waiting for a bag of popcorn to finish popping in the microwave?

* Do you get impatient if you have to wait longer than 5 minutes in a grocery store checkout line?

* Do you ever use an ATM machine rather than going into a bank to withdraw money or writing a check?

* Do you ever order something and pick it up in the drive-through?

* Do you call in a prescription so you can just drive to the pharmacy to pick it up, rather than waiting for it to be filled while you wait?

* Do you get upset or frustrated if you are in traffic and find yourself behind someone who is going 5 mph below the speed limit?

* Do you ever buy pre-made meals at the store in order to save time and effort?

These are only a few examples, but answering yes to any of these indicates that you are affected by the instant gratification society. While we can muse about the impatience of teenagers in the world today, they weren’t the ones that started the instant gratification society. People from their 30’s to their 70’s did that. That includes me.

Before we can be justified in lamenting about the impatience of others, we must first recognize the impatience in ourselves. It is that impatience that directly caused the instant gratification society we live in today.

  • Are you affected by the instant gratification society?

    • Yes, definitely
    • Yes, a little
    • Very little
    • No


What do you think?

13 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


    • I don’t think anyone really likes standing in a line. Being patient doesn’t mean liking or enjoying waiting, it just means that you will wait without feeling put out because you need to.

      • There are times when it is unavoidable, though. Still, if it can’t be avoided, it is usually best not to be upset about it. It can be helpful to remember that everyone else is having to wait, too.

        Way back when I was a support technician, nearly everyone who called in was frustrated by the time we spoke to them. It didn’t take much study to figure out that a great deal of that frustration wasn’t from the issue they were calling about, it was the wait time before talking to a technician. We actively worked at getting the call times down and we succeeded; down from about 95 minutes to 8 minutes. Not only did that remove most of the frustration the technicians were having to deal with, but it also caused the number of the product that was sold to increase by about a dozen times. People don’t like to wait and seem to respond when a business makes sure that they don’t have to.

  1. interesting.
    there is much to discuss and much here that I would not discuss.

    I suspect if we consider the reality of time, there are other issues that impact the instant gratification society.

    1. most Americans work fewer hours now than 50 years ago, but the time people have is far more scheduled than it was 50 years ago. You are still working when the phone rings, regardless of where you are. 50 years ago, you went home, had a scotch and asked “Wally and the Beaver” about their day. Now you come home and leave right away for things you need to do.
    2. In support of your position, the reality of two-day, one-day and now, drone delivery makes waiting something many people don’t do.

    But in the words of my grandfather: “what are you willing to wait for?”

    • Those are sound and wise words that were spoken by your grandfather. The biggest pity that I have is that patience is seldom learned today. Almost as bad is the fact that since so many people have never had to do without, they are ill-equipped to deal with it when they have no choice and they very often confuse “want” and “need”.

      “I need a new pair of shoes.”

      “Really? Are your old ones worn out?”

      “No, but I’ve had them for a year, so I need a new pair.”

      That is a want, not a need.

      • i won’t touch want vers need – that is a huge kettle of fish.

        I always tell people they need to spend a year as a school teacher. It gets rid of that need to have things, now!

  2. I have become like a recluse and I need to get myself out and walking but while I have been comfortable just being home and working from home I find that being able to have everything delivered to me is actually part of the problem. The other is that even if I finally emerge into the world at least twice a week to go walking the only things close to me are fast food places, pizza shops, and convenience stores. Everything and anything else all comes to me through the Internet and delivery.

      • There are plenty of places like the beach but it means people and people to me have become strange. I don’t know what I will do but I know as compensation for my first trial run of going outdoors I am returning triumphant with a pizza. You see now I need incentive to go outside.

        • “Strange” is as good a word as any to describe “people”. However, in that regard, people haven’t changed much in thousands of years. They are really no more strange now than they were long, long ago.

    • Instant=immediate or very quickly
      gratification=to be gratified or satisfied

      In other words, wanting to get what you want, when you want it, without having to wait.