A friend and I were discussing instant gratification syndrome and the causes, side effects, and work-arounds. It seems that the current generation of hipster-geeks has been handed everything on demand and that microwave ovens, broadband connectivity, cell phones, and instant messaging have infected us with this strange disorder.
- iBook On the Slow Boat – Back in October, I bought an iBook (right after the refresh) and of course there were delays and the reload button on my at-work-browser actually broke because I hit it too many times on the FedEx page. “Why can’t Apple just materialize the iBook in my lap after they approved my credit card?” “Well son, our transporters just won’t work from Taiwan to South Carolina.”
- “Boy, Could I Use a…” – Been meaning to buy that new $8 gadget z that you can only find on amazon.com? You can’t do it, can you? By the time it gets here, it’ll be too late because you need it right now. Here’s the thing, Peter: you’ll need it again in a week. It’s gonna take you 90 seconds to buy it (I know you don’t have to find it because it’s on your wishlist) so go do it right now. If you managed to make it back after your amazon.com shopping spree, thanks. You’ll be thanking me next week when your package comes from amazon and you don’t have to slap yourself in the forehead again for not having gadget z right when you need it.
- Urgent! 911! Help! Help! – Why isn’t Dungeons and Dragons guy responding to my requests for [insert help desk ticket number here] yet? This is the most debilitating example that I can come up with because when I’m frustrated about waiting for something that I think is dire, I’m insufferable and nonproductive. I’m working on it though. For a few weeks, I’ve had a sentence on my whiteboard: “It’s probably not as urgent as you think.” It serves as a reminder that I can cope with waiting.
All of these situations where I long for instant gratification serve as a distraction against by biggest goal – to get things done so I can spend time with my family and at leisure.
Instant gratification syndrome is also very debilitating if you live in my area. About ninety-eight percent of the population just isn’t in a hurry to do anything – which makes it hard if you’re anxious, easily distracted, or just in a hurry. Try keeping your head on straight while driving behind a 1972 Impala going 1/3 of the posted speed limit with its left turn signal on for 14 miles. We have no Fry’s, no Apple store, and a lot of hipster-geek paraphernalia just has to be waited on.
If you notice these same effects, make yourself wait on things on occassion. Take your iPod to work and go home the long way; bring your Moleskine to a restaurant when it’s way overpacked and just jot some ideas down while you patiently wait for a table. Practice for a time when you have to wait, and learn to make the most of it.