We Want It Now!

It was late at night. I was alternately watching and snoring through some science fiction flick on TV. In the movie, all the children had rebelled against the adults, and were taking over the world. As billions of brats marched to the sea, they all cried out in unison:

“We want what we want, and we want it now!”

“I’m sure glad this is just a movie”, I mumbled to myself. I mean, if we ever have a world full of people with that kind of attitude, our future’s in big trouble, right?

Well, I hate to tell you:

The future is now …

The war is over …

The brats won.

Never mind the oil crisis, the disappearing rain forests or all those endangered species. What we have here is a serious shortage of patience. From lobbyists in Washington to the folks down at the Sonic drive-in, everyone is saying it:

“We want what we want, and we want it now!”

No waiting in line. No take-a-number-take-a-seat. No “please pull forward”…

Now!

Technology is, in part, to blame. Over the years it has made us more and more accustomed to getting things faster and faster. The quicker our techno-gadgets deliver the goods, the more impatient we become. And soon yesterday’s speed is tomorrow’s sputter.

It’s nothing new. Way back in the early 80’s, a friend once complained to me that his printer would “only” print 160 characters per second. I asked him, “Can you write 160 characters in 1 second?” Today my modern printer’s speed is clocked in pages per minute. But even as it prints the photos from my digital camera, I still think it takes too long. I endure the agony because after all, I can’t be expected to wait a whole hour for film to develop, right?

Ever since the washing machine, futurists have been predicting that speedy new contraptions would give us more time to relax. But it hasn’t worked that way. In fact, each new generation seems to be more stressed out than those before it. Not that technology is lagging behind. Technology is advancing faster than we can learn it. So what’s the problem?

It’s us, people. We’re the ones who couldn’t wait 1 second to print 160 characters back in the ’80’s. Or 10 whole minutes to nuke a baked potato in the ’90’s. Or half an hour to get to the office before we checked our email this morning. New 21st century tech-toys aren’t going to cure our impatience. What we need is a fresh truckload of good old-fashioned 1970’s mellow.

So chill out, kick back, relax, everybody!  Have another cup of coffee. Listen to some music. Stop and really smell those roses.

And when you feel you’re finally ready, go out and find a nice, long line.

Stand in it. (Yes, without your iPhone.) Now …

Just wait your turn.

Patiently.

If you can do it, maybe the brats haven’t won after all.

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3 responses to “We Want It Now!

  1. Author’s note:

    This post is actually an update from a piece I wrote some years ago for our IT department’s newsletter. I did a regular column called “As the Hard Drive Turns”, where I wrote about technology and life. It was a sort of comic relief from the more serious articles about how you should change your password often and not write it down on a Post-it note.

    We’re talking mid-nineties here, so most of my ATHDT articles are hopelessly out-of-date. But this one seemed salvageable, and I needed something to post, so I decided to tweak it a bit, bring it into this century and give it a new life on the blog. It’s theme of our society’s impatience sort of fits with my other random musings on spiritual things.

    BTW, I Googled the title, “We Want It Now” and it was incredible how many hits I got with those four words. Judging from that, it seems this little article hasn’t lost it’s timeliness…

  2. This was a great post, Ken. I totally agree that everyone seems to be in a hurry and that our advancements in technology are mostly to blame. It’s an addiction that we as a society are feeding daily to ensure that we won’t ever have to wait longer than we did on yesterday.

    But I would have to agree with you that we need to get back to waiting in lines, oven baking the potatoes(it actually taste better that way to me, anyways), and unplug everything for several hours if not for the entire day.

    We as a society are in a rush to get somewhere that we have no idea where we’re headed too. And I’m not so sure we’re going to like it much once we get there, and it doesn’t seem to bother us much that we don’t have a clue. We just want to get there already! NOW! 🙂

    • Hi Deeone,

      Thanks for stopping by and for your insightful comment. I just got back from a “technology break”, enjoying the Florida sand ‘n surf without internet access. So sorry for the late reply.

      Hope you didn’t mind “waiting” 😉

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