Reinvent Yourself

Strategies to Reboot Your Work and Your World

Why We’ve Got to Have Instant Gratification

We’re already living in the future we dreamed about, are we sure we want it?

Technology has allowed people instant access to more services, products, and experiences than any time in human history. Like George Jetson and his push button world of tomorrow, our daily needs and wants are delivered faster than ever before.

If you want a book, a tool, a song, a movie, a meal, a massage, you can either access it or order it. With the help of the Internet, smartphones, and every time saving app you can download, we’re living in a world of instant gratification.

Everyone wonders what it would be like to live during other times in history. Time travel novels and movies explore this theme and people love putting themselves in the narrator’s shoes, traveling backward to see the wonders of ancient Egypt, or forward to a peaceful Star Trek inspired world where world peace exists. Instead, we’re living in a time where kings of old would be jealous of what the average working person can have, with very little effort. If your idea of happiness is to live in a world where you can instantly get what you want, you’re already living in the future you dreamed about. 

One of the lessons digital natives are being taught by our culture is that it’s no longer necessary to wait for experiences or goals. If you’re growing up in a world where instant gratification is the accepted standard, what’s the eventual outcome? Don’t good things come to those who wait? What happens when we don’t have to wait for anything anymore? In a world of endless instantaneous need-fulfilling, is it still possible or necessary to teach the human virtues of patience, practice, and persistence? 

Life may currently be stuck on fast forward, but there’s a resistance growing to the idea of always having and getting more right away. In the past few years’ mindfulness, slow food, and long novels have infiltrated popular culture. People get to know each other over time, and every loving relationship or true friendship grows over months and years. Emotional intelligence has become a common and useful phrase in our culture, shorthand for people understanding there’s a variety of ways to know things, and one of those ways is to care deeply.

Ingesting information and technical details is no longer considered to be enough, one must also feel something about the knowledge one carries within. We used to only need facts and statistics, but these days, more often we’re seeking an underlying truth about someone’s life, or about how events unfolded. The story around events and experiences is what draws us in. People want to dig deeper and understand the story behind the bullet points. The new golden age of TV is partly based on the need people have for well-told stories. Long form storytelling connects us directly to the social need to understand how human beings react when love or conflicts arise.

Memories accumulate in our minds over years, and our bodies experience our lives one day at a time. Over millions of years, we’ve changed the planet and created civilizations. It’s not in our best interest to not have anything to strive for. We’re complicated beings who were hardwired to be social and interact in tribal settings long before the age of social media. Google might deliver an answer that’ll satisfy you in seconds, but connecting meaningfully to people takes much longer.

Russell C. Smith and Michael Foster are established professionals with backgrounds in writing, art and reinvention.

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