Patience is still a virtue, but the concept is on life support these days.
If you doubt that, consider how we buy “stuff” from food and soft goods to durable goods. Actually, durable goods might be considered an archiac term given that nobody seems to repair things such as TV sets, toasters, and refrigerators any more. Now we just toss them aside and buy new ones. Imagine what our grandparents (assuming you are 50 or older) or great-grandparents would have thought of such a trend given how they’d sew holes in shirts and pants and even buy new handles for shoves and axes they broke.
They thought the world was getting a little edgy when 7-Eleven stores — the name given Tote’m stores in 1946 when they extended hours to the then unheard of time of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. — starting catching on like wildfire in the mid-1950s.
Then in 1963, 7-Eleven stores started staying open 24 hours. This bucked the norm when grocery stores were open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and many other retailers closed at 6 p.m. with a few open until 7 p.m. and many closed on Sunday.
Even just 40 years ago a supermarket open 24 hours or a place like a hardware store open to 8 p.m. was considered a rare exception.
The longer hours at first were driven by convenience that was centered on how lifestyles and work schedules were changing.
But now it is as much about impatience as it is convenience
We see something online at 2 a.m. that isn’t edible or something we absolutely don’t need to have in the next 48 hours or even the next two weeks and we have it shipped from Amazon so we have it by 2 p.m.
Say what you want about investing a few weeks thinking about and even shopping around trying out couches and other furniture, but you seem to appreciate what you have a lot more when you invest some time into selecting and acquiring it.
It’s much like the difference between your first car and the first car that you earned the money to buy.
While you may have been grateful for your parents buying that 12 year-old car for you, it never was taken care of as well as the vehicle you spent months saving up for a down payment and then years making payments.
You invested your heart, sweat and soul into that first car you bought.
Going several days without a blender after it breaks might be an inconvenience until we can get to a store, but it does re-enforce how fortunate you are to have one. Yes, it is convenient to be able to click a few boxes and the replacement blender is on your doorstep in 12 hours, but it isn’t as valuable.
That’s not to say you should pay more for an item — if online happens to be cheaper — just so you have the value of an item re-enforced by delayed gratification. But how you value something is often based proportionately on how much you had to invest to acquire it in terms of earning the money and the time it takes to be in a position to select and then obtain it.
We’ve also come a long way from investing a lot of time into planning out a week let alone a year from now. And one of the most basic things we used to plan for is what we would eat in the next seven days.
While it sounds great to decide at 8 a.m. while sitting at work what you want for dinner and have the groceries dropped by your house to make it by the time you get off at 5 p.m., it takes away from putting a lot of energy into thinking what you are going to feed yourself and others, weekly trips to the supermarket are more than just stocking up on food. They make you think about the next seven days since eating is basic to living.
The world may not be at that point where we abandon once-a-week shopping trips to the grocery store, but it will be in fairly short order if firms like Amazon have their way.
And when that happens we will also lose interacting with strangers or quasi-strangers in supermarket aisles and checkout stands.
It’s not unprecedented. Shortly after crank-up phones and Model-T vehicles started populating the landscape the Jeff Bezos of the day where offering customers the ability to call in grocery orders and have them boxed and delivered later that day.
But back then there was still a human connection — the delivery boy. Now it is dumped on your doorstep by a delivery service.
You can’t turn the clock back on progress if instant gratification is progress.
You might want to ask yourself, though, how the “we want the world and we want it now” approach is working whether it’s in how we acquire things, how we expect our government and therefore national politics to operate, and how we interact with each other.
If we can’t do some advance planning and exercise a bit of patience to make sure we have eggs on Wednesday how would world peace ever become a possibility?
We have managed to use tech to make us lazy when it comes to relationships, planning, and even acquiring basic needs. At the same time the Internet is sounding more and more like the Tower of Babel where there is a lot of talking going on that no one is listening to not because what passes as communication might be in another tongue but because there is no room allowed for contemplation.
The art of contemplation is one of the first victims of instant gratification.