Instant Gratification by Jean Betances

Streaming services are affecting the way you and I think. These services have an underlying change to your emotions that you might not notice. Some of these services include Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Steam and countless others. Besides the services that these companies offer, the streaming aspect of it gives us instant gratification. We get what we want immediately without having to wait. At first it may seem like nothing is wrong with that but in reality it is training us to be less patient and to not wait for things. It defies sayings like: “good things come to those who wait” and “everything in due time”. It makes it harder to tolerate when we actually have to wait for something to happen.

Streaming services are a very big players in making us impatient and having shorter attention spans. Another big player in this, although not a streaming service, is Google. Google is a search engine that in a matter of seconds gives back millions of results to any inquiries that you may have. Google has a new feature that allows for us to search from any screen on our phones, so now we have instant answers and solutions on our phones just like we have instant music, movies, and TV shows from streaming services. I didn’t realize that this was a growing problem in today’s day and age until one day my internet connection was having problems and I got angrier than the situation called for. At that moment I realized that I got used to getting things immediately online so when I couldn’t I didn’t know how to process it. Ironically enough I immediately did a google search to see if others have reacted the same way and to my surprise this has been something that has been looked into for years. Since that day I began cutting down on the amount of streaming services I use to try and regain some of that patience that I used to have. I deactivated my Amazon Prime account and switched my Netflix from the streaming plan to the mail-in plan. I still google things because these services are also designed to make our lives more enjoyable and easier even though they come with some negative side effects. This is something that I think people should practice and if not at least be an effect that they should know exists and should act with caution.

Lebanon Times writer, Joel Risser, had the same issue with his son. He says that his son will never understand that in the past if his father wanted to watch a show he had to watch it when it was on or rely on a rerun to catch up on what he missed because it was not on demand or in any of these services like I have previously mentioned. Risser says even if the electricity goes out his son can still watch Sesame Street as long as there is a charged phone tablet or laptop. This proves that other people have noticed that with the help of technology things are becoming available whenever a person may request it. Risser wants to stress the importance of delayed gratification. He shows this by saying that delayed gratification is something that has been practiced since the bible times. He said, “The Bible reverberates with calls for us to be patient in our prayers and to ‘be still before the Lord and wait for him.’(Psalms 37:7)”. Another thing that Joel Risser pointed out is that instant gratification should be only for necessary things, like having to go to the bathroom. Things that are essential, not things that are wants.  (Risser, Lebanon Daily)

Instant gratification has become such a big problem that near Microsoft’s headquarters, The Impulse society opened in Seattle. It’s the world’s first rehab center for technology addicts that have been affected to the most extreme cases. In there are people who are addicted to video games, so much so that their self-control and decision making ability has atrophied. This is a reality that the rest of us might have to face. We might have to figure out a way to live in a society that is too good in giving us what we want. The reason this could be problematic is because in life not everything can be when we want or it might not be possible at all so we have to be ready for those circumstances (Macdonald, Roberts).

I wanted to know if this has affected people around me in the same way it affected me so I asked my 21 year-old cousin Kathleen Rintleman about her uses of streaming services. I asked her what the streaming service she used the most was. “Well technically I use Spotify the most but the one that I can’t live without is Netflix.” I proceeded to ask her how often she used Netflix. “I use it every time I get home from school and work or on the commute there on my phone”. “Why do you say you can’t live without it?” I asked. “It’s not that I can’t live without it but things in general would be a bit more boring. Instead of being able to watch episodes of the Flash when I get home I’d have to wait for a re-run because I’m at work when the new episodes air.” I concluded from this interview that my cousin is now in a state where she thinks her life is better off with Netflix and that she believes that she could not bear without it. I realized that she’s forgotten that there was a time in her life where she didn’t have that and she had no other choice but to wait for a rerun. This made me think that instant gratification takes away the ability we had before to wait.

I decide to ask my father, Luis Betances at age 48 about Netflix. I asked him how often he uses Netflix. “I use it every time I get a Blu-ray in the mail. I have the mail service for Netflix and not the streaming service although I used to have it in the past.” “Why did you choose the mailing service instead of the streaming service?” I asked. “The mailing service to me offers classic movies that are not allowed on the streaming service.” “But wouldn’t you rather see the movies instantly?” “Yes, but I’d rather wait for a movie that I want to see instead instantly seeing a movie that I don’t want to see.” Just like with my cousin I began to think and concluded that my father has been around a much longer time than my cousin so he is better able to control his impulses. I believe that even though my father still might have a natural urge for things that give him instant gratification, he is better able to control them because of his experience which we could think of as like training.

Instant gratification might not be all bad however, it is a result of technology coming a long way. It was a result of us being able to speed things up like getting 4G LTE on our cell phones, meaning we can look things up in seconds. Humans strive to make things easier, more effective, and overall faster. This is a choice we make and with it comes instant gratification so maybe it’s something we shouldn’t oppose and just accept as a natural result of our improvements. Instant gratification is a result of our advances technologies that ultimately make our lives simpler. Imagine a world where when trying to watch an online video there is a 5 minute pause just to train ourselves to have delayed gratification. Instant gratification as a product of streaming services might not necessarily bad but it is something that we should keep in mind.

Works Cited

Betances, Luis. Personal interview. 27 Nov 2015

MACDONALD, NANCY. “The Impulse Society: America I n The Age Of Instant Gratification.” Maclean’s 127.35 (2014): 76-77. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Rintleman, Kathleen. Personal interview. 29 Nov 2015

Risser, Joel. “Instant World Is Making Teaching Patience Difficult.” LexisNexis Academic [LexisNexis]. The Lebanon Daily News, 27 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.


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