The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Unhappy Hour: Instant Gratification Always Comes With Long Term Cost

2 min read

Last week, I came home exhausted after a 15-hour workday, wanting nothing more than to pull up Netflix and let the sweet sounds of a 90’s sitcom lull me to sleep.

After five minutes of waiting for Melrose Place (the old, not the new) to load, I found myself increasingly frustrated at a machine: a stupid piece of equipment that I only understand the basic functions of.

As my anger escalated, I realized that what I was really angry about was that I couldn’t achieve instant gratification. I couldn’t get everything I wanted right when I wanted it.

Have people always been as impatient as they are now? Really though, this seems to be more of a cultural dilemma than generational one (I’ve been alive forever, so I know). In France it wouldn’t come as a surprise to have to wait for something, and the extra five minutes standing in line wouldn’t ignite heated tempers quite as fast.

Unfortunately for Americans, Burger King has taught us that we can have it our way, and if our way doesn’t arrive in 30 seconds or less we have every right to throw a fit about it, or better yet, sue. This leaves us with less temptation and more emotional gluttony.

But the downfall of always getting what you want right when you want it is that you miss out on the anticipation.
Remember the butterflies you used to get in elementary school when the boy you had a crush on looked your way? He wasn’t really looking at you, but you always imagined he was, forgetting that the clock was right behind you. If he had gotten up, looked you in the eye and told you that he loved you right then and there, you probably would be a pretty scorned seven-year-old the next week when he told your (uglier) best friend the same thing.

See? Illusion destroyed. As it stands, he is just the first lost love of your life, or something equally, undeservedly dramatic.

If we get everything we want when we want it, ultimately nothing really has meaning anymore. The wonderment is lost and the butterflies are gone.

Oftentimes, we think we know exactly what we want. Obviously, because we know ourselves better than anyone, right?
But all too frequently, we’re wrong. And what we end up waiting for-and maybe later getting-is what we wanted all along.

So, maybe I’ll change my Netflix from instant to DVD’s. Not only because the prices for streaming have become outrageous, but because when you wait for something, the gratification is that much more rewarding.

Too bad patience is still a virtue I haven’t really mastered.