Friday, July 3, 2015

Instant gratification - is it so bad?

Day eighteen: Instant gratification, is it so bad? We live in a world where consumerism is rampant, where instant gratification is the norm, where everything seems to have a use by date. A few years ago I would not have given any of this much thought, but here, living the life I do now, I have been thinking about it a lot.

In my old life, if I wanted something I got it pretty much straight away, in everyday things at least. If I wanted a new shirt I got one, new shoes, new book, whatever. If my washing machine broke down I got it fixed and felt annoyed if it took more than a few days. Whatever I needed I got and most things I wanted I got even if I didn’t really need them.

But here, finances and my geographical situation mean that instant gratification is a thing of the past. If I want a new shirt or shoes, well tough – there’s no money for that and not much choice either. I don’t even have a washing machine any more. Anything I want I have to put on the back-burner, anything I need I have to scrimp, save and plan for. But that’s not bad, it’s taught me what is really necessary and made me appreciate everything I do have.

Gamer Son managed to break the screen of his laptop a while back. That happened to me in my old life, and my laptop was replaced under insurance because I was told it would have cost more than the computer was worth to repair it. And yet here, the laptop was repaired in less than an hour for a fraction of the cost of a new one. Actually, it was repaired for a fraction of the cost of a diagnostic fee. My own laptop ground to a halt and was brought back to life in a couple of hours and at a teeny tiny price.  Consumerism, it makes a throwaway and wasteful society.

Because I have to prioritize it takes a lot longer to get anything that I may want. That means that I appreciate it far more than I would otherwise have done. That also means that I will treasure it and look after it. I remember still as a child being horrified when a school friend tore the pages of a book she had received for her birthday. She wasn’t bothered, she said her parents would just get her a new one. To my eyes it meant that she didn’t truly appreciate what she held in her hands.

In society today we throw away things that could be repaired or repurposed. White goods are made to last only a few years. The media fools us into thinking that instant gratification is our right, no matter if it puts us deep into debt. But, this type of thinking leads to a shallow, constant search for something new. When you have to wait, plan, work for what you want it gives you a much deeper satisfaction that lasts for longer.

We are bombarded daily with advertisements for goods - for stuff - that is going to make us happy. The ads say that so it must be true. We must have the latest everything to be happy. We must have trinkets, ornaments, more clothes than we will ever wear, a kitchen full of equipment we will never use, a new phone every year, a new car every two years, a man shed, a woman shed, a pool, jewelry, designer pets – anything that manufacturers can come up with to brain-bash us that we ‘need’.

It’s all lies. We don’t need any of it. Most of it will end up polluting the earth in landfill, some of the designer pets surrendered to the pound to join the rescue animals waiting for a real home. We need the basics – food, shelter and clothing. The entire planet needs those basics. Who are we to be obsessing about a diamond ring when there are human beings starving all over the world? How did we all become so morally corrupt that it is more important to have the latest phone than it is to help save a life? How is it that we have as a race the ability to reach every human being on the planet, the ability to eradicate homelessness and hunger and famine and we instead waste our time watching shows about vapid socialites.  In fact, how did we become so shallow that we even watch these shows and give importance to these people?

We all live on the only planet we’ve got that will sustain human life. We act as though the problems affecting parts of the world removed from us have no impact. Of course they do, we are all one on the one planet. What affects one affects us all but we have become so closed off that we can’t feel it. The planet is struggling to support us and like spoiled ungrateful children we take and take and take without giving anything back. Something has got to give, something has got to break. I fear it will be us as a race that will go, and perhaps we deserve it.

You know I set out to write how the things you wait for, work for,  and strive for are the things most treasured and appreciated in life. Waiting and working patiently towards a goal make that victory so much sweeter when it comes. Guess my fingers had other ideas.

This should not be a goal

This should be the goal
 Or we won't have this

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