Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The digital age and the vanishing virtues of patience, delayed gratification, and disappointment

How many of us would give thanks for having to wait a little to get something or to not always being able to get everything we want right away?

No, it's not a trick question.  It's a matter of shifting perspective.  For example, would you want to eat a piece of fruit that hadn't ripened?  Trust me, it doesn't taste the same.  It takes time for fruit to become ripe.  It's just part of a natural cycle.  Everything has its season and its time of life.  Waiting for that time, preparing for it, even working for it, can give a sense of purpose and belonging.  It also greatly enhances our appreciation for when something does become ripe in our life.  Imagine you could speed up the process by importing fruit from another hemisphere, using greenhouse orchards, or by some form of genetic modification.  Do you still have the same eager anticipation?  Does the increased availability make the fruit as exciting? Are you as grateful for it?

The same is true for holidays.  It might be nice to imagine if you could always feel the joy of Christmas, for example, but if Christmas really did happen every week, it would become tedious and common.  That doesn't mean we can't ask how to keep such joy alive, it simply means that it isn't necessarily the things itself which brings us joy, gratitude, wonder, etc.  One person's wonder is another person's boring waste of time.  It is our perspective and attitude that makes something special.  By regularly giving in to the urge to be impatient, to demand instant gratification, and to always experience our preferred outcome, we eventually suck the life out of our experiences.  We deaden ourselves.  We live a kind of half-life. 

More than this, we screw up the natural cycles and rhythms of nature and society.  This can have drastic consequences for our natural and social environments, which are experiencing previously unimaginable levels of degradation owing to forces such as blind and insatiable consumerism.  Time itself becomes a commodity to be bought and sold, and by diminishing "our" time by selling it in the workplace, there is an even greater demand for getting what we want now so we can appreciate it in "the time we have".  Does this really sound like a recipe for contentment, peace and joy?  Or is a positive feedback loop that drives us further and further out of balance?  Where the more (things of) value we invest in the system the less of a return we actually receive?

If we follow this through, consider what that means about our quest to find satisfaction in the current economic and societal models of success.  Then watch this interesting video on how the perception of time affects us and in turn how our perceptions are influenced by new technology...

1 comment:

  1. ideas make us tiny thinkers

    awareness is not a product of thought

    i wish you well

    thinking is the land of the lost


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