Ramifications of instant gratification

We live in an era of instant noodles, instant camera, instant coffee, instant messaging, instant makeover, instant geyser, instant intimacy, and many other instant alternatives. The ‘instant’ pace has led to a need for instant gratification. Today’s generation hardly knows the meaning of delayed gratification. Everything is expected to be served instantly – be it food, love and sex or communication. Waiting can be psychologically taxing. Patience is daunting if exercised.  Any sort of delay manifests in impatience, frustration, pressure, anxiety and anger.

Only a couple of decades ago, writing letters and waiting for a reply used to be so common. One would eagerly but not impatiently wait for a letter from a postman. And the gratification that followed would be supreme on getting a reply. Unfortunately, thanks to the email, this practice is almost redundant. While the internet has drastically transformed the communication process, it is responsible for delayed gratification becoming challenging. Transformation from snail mail to email reduced the pace of response time from days to minutes. People would email one another – the pace would be quick so back and forth emails became the norm. Parallelly, various email messengers became popular.  Live chat across different boundaries and borders of the world became possible. This was the beginning of instant communication. Finally, with the advent of mobile messenger applications, response time got reduced to seconds. It has made people so used to getting instant responses that a delayed response causes restlessness. A terrible mental state cascading down on a lot of areas in life including relationships.

Telephone conversations still highlight the main mode of communication for courting couples. Even after having a telephonic conversation for hours together, one wants to text or chat. The need to be connected 24×7 leads to a lot of stress.  It stems not only from a longing or a state of missing each other but more from compulsion. Just because one can, why not? When one doesn’t hear from one’s partner for some time, there is an emotional turmoil. The same affects the partner and takes a toll on the relationship. Technology should be used to facilitate a relationship and not hamper it. Just because it’s available doesn’t mean one must use it incessantly. The scope of giving space to each other is almost zero. If one is not physically present with one’s partner doesn’t mean one is providing the much-required space.  Following one’s partner and expecting him or her to be connected constantly is like virtual stalking. Extremely unhealthy for a relationship and rational health of the couples involved.

The need for instant gratification has become so ingrained in people thanks to the technological advancement that one wonders if the mental health index of people was higher before or now. Addiction was only restricted to drugs. Terms like digital detox was unheard of. Paranoia, obsessive compulsive disorder and trauma have increased manifold thanks to the addiction to be gratified instantly. The need to have immediate need/want fulfilment has become a lifestyle disease.

Some of the best things in life are worth waiting for. We  all should learn to cultivate the habit to wait. Develop more patience and see our self and our relationship blooming.