This morning I was brewing my coffee as I always do, and found myself, as I am wont to do, eagerly standing by the coffee maker, waiting for it to spit out even a quarter of the amount I had set it for so that I could have my first cup. This in turn made me think about how impatient I was, and made me think about how patience, in general, seems to be something that assorted advances in just about everything have made almost completely unnecessary.
There have been plenty of jokes about microwave ovens, and how they make us enjoy things that we just couldn’t enjoy so quickly in the not too distant past. Heating up things took time, and making popcorn involved spending some time pouring out oil, pouring out kernels, and shaking the pan until the kernels started to pop. Brewing coffee meant turning on a coffee maker, and waiting for the entire pot to brew; no pulling out the pot in the middle of the brewing cycle to have that extra cup.
It works that way with just about everything else. Seeing an old movie used to involve waiting forever for it to come to a movie theater that played old movies, or watching a heavily edited version of that film on a syndicated television station, usually late at night. Now, obviously, it just requires heading over to Netflix, or waiting two or three days for Amazon slaves to deliver the purchase.
This often makes me wonder if we expect this same instant gratification in just about everything in our lives. Relationships, for example, take time to develop, as does any sort of hobby or skill. It’s difficult, in the age of microwave popcorn, not to give up on the entire enterprise if there aren’t instantaneous rewards. I often wonder how many friendships don’t get off the ground because people just can’t accept the fact that it may take more than a few minutes for everything to come together.
The same applies for repairing things. When things broke, I remember that I actually was willing to spend some time sitting down and trying to repair them. Now, as such an inconvenience gets in the way of my enjoying my instant meals and almost instant coffee, I’m much more likely to just throw the thing out and buy another from Amazon. Amazon, of course, is great for these things, as their underpaid shipping slaves make sure that I’ll get it in two days.
This also makes me contemplate: exactly what are we all doing with this time that we don’t have to spend on coffee, popcorn, and broken items? It would seem that we look for other ways to occupy our time, and this often involves buying still more things from Amazon, which we don’t have to wait for. Then we can use our time to buy more things.
In fact, it would seem that the purpose of all this impatience is to foster an impatience for the quick shipments of more things. These things often take time to open and learn to use and play, but it’s becoming easier and easier to cut down the time to open and learn these things, so we have more time. Then we can buy more things.