Yesterday was my birthday and I was overwhelmed with a flood of email messages, facebook comments, text messages, e- cards, and instant messages wishing me a happy birthday. While I was truly grateful for all of the love I received it made me think. Years ago, I may have gotten a card or two in the mail and a visitor or two. Certainly times have changed. The days of visiting and mailing cards have ceased. We have now entered into the age of Instant Gratification. Things that we used to have to wait for are now instantaneously ours in seconds. What used to cost 25 cents and a week for delivery can now be sent in a matter of seconds. When did this all happen?
When did the world change and become so instant. We make instant coffee in the morning because we are in a hurry. We buy instant rice because it cooks faster. We no longer rely on our US Postal Service to deliver our letters, we email, text, fax or instant message.
Our food is instant. What used to take mom all day to prepare can be picked up in a matter of minutes and on the table even faster. Our educational system is even instant. If you don’t have time to attend classes in person, just sign up for an online college and have college at your fingertips. Wow!
Instant banking, instant bill pay, instant wealth classes! Whether you agree with it or not, our lives have for better or worse become more…… convenient. The things we used to have to be patient and wait for are now instantaneous!
The advent of such instant gratification has taken me on a trip down memory lane. It has caused me to say with a smile on my face, I remember when. Travel with me for a minute to a time not long ago:
I remember when cartoons were on primarily on Saturday mornings. If you missed the cartoons on Saturday morning, you missed it!! They didn’t repeat. They didn’t play episode after episode, you caught it during that 3-hour window on Saturday morning or you waited until next Saturday. No videos, no repeat after a couple of hours, no rebroadcasts or tapings or tivo. You had to be patient!
I remember when TV had only a few channels, about 7 to be exact and a few VHF channels that nobody was too interested in. TV lasted until maybe 2 am on the weekend and then, you would hear Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful and it was over. You got snow on your screen, which signified, TV was over. No cable, no VCR, no rented movies. You had to wait until the next morning to watch TV. My children think I am from another planet when I tell them these things.
I remember when if you wanted to heat up your leftovers from the refrigerator, you had to turn on the oven, wrap your food up in foil and wait for it to warm up. First, it took the oven a while to heat up, then it took your food another few minutes so you had to (of, course) be patient. With the advent of the microwave, there’s no more waiting. Two minutes and your food should be too hot to even touch!
I remember when our household had one phone and every person used to share it. When you were having a conversation with one of your friends and your mom’s friend called, you had to get off the phone and WAIT until she was finished talking! I remember my brother and I alternated times. He had an hour and I had an hour. If some of those heated “discussions” we had could’ve been taped, people would pay money to hear them. Two teen-agers actually had to find a way to share the phone. Can you imagine your teen- agers now required to share a phone? Seems impossible now. Now, every child seems to start at a young age and have their own cell phone that is at their disposal whenever the want it or need it. Requiring two to share a phone I guess would be just too much to ask!
No doubt, the technology invented for our time has greatly reduced the time we have to wait for things. These “time- savers” are supposed to free up our time to be able to do the “important” things in life. But it seems, the more they invent, the more time we take with the devices leaving little to no leisure time. Our cell phones have become attached to our ears so that we don’t even have to hold them. I remember taking trips in the summertime, driving for days at a time and nobody in the car had a phone. There were not numerous stops to call people while we were riding. In fact, I don’t remember any phone calls being made at all….and we lived to tell about it! We survived! Now you look into traveling cars that are going from school to home, maybe a five minute trip and the kids have phones, TVs playing videos on the screen in front of them and hand held video games in their laps. These same children visit restaurants with all of their equipment in tow. Video games, DVD players etc. It seems they don’t want a minute of “dead time.”
I’ll happily admit, I LOVE the convenience of my microwave, having my cell phone at all times, being able to text my husband at a moments notice and being able to warm my food up in seconds. I love paying my bills online and having the option of taking online classes at will. At the same time, I wonder what this is doing to our society. What is this doing to the kids who are too shy to talk but can text away! What is this doing to the kid’s attention spans when they are being entertained every moment of the day until they fall asleep? I realize that ADD is a reality for some people however, no wonder it’s on the rise and being diagnosed more often to younger children if all we do is keep them amused 24/ 7. We have become a “We want it now!!” generation.
The Internet has made us an instant information culture. Although I am grateful for the many advantages the Internet, instant banking and instant bill pay online have afforded me, I wonder if we’ve gone too far. When is it too much? The easy answer is: when it takes our focus off God and puts all of the focus on US. This me, my, I mentality has created a narcissistic society that doesn’t know when enough is enough. Instead of acknowledging God, they act like gods.
Not very long ago, two brothers, Lyle and Erik Menendez wanted to make haste and acquire their parent’s fortune…right away. While their parents were alive, that was not possible. So they couldn’t wait any longer and decided they’d murder their parents themselves in order to gain “instant wealth.” And they did! During their first six months as orphans, the brothers spent over 1 million dollars on a restaurant, a Porsche, a Rolex watch, professional tennis lessons and anything else they thought they wanted! I guess they just couldn’t wait! These brothers born in Princeton, New Jersey, one attended Princeton University and then the family moved to Beverly Hills, Ca. For all intents and purposes, they already had a very lavish lifestyle. Why wasn’t that enough? Obviously, they were going to inherit their parent’s fortune, since their parent’s willed it all to them. They just had to be patient, which was more than they were willing to do. For the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Tim 6:10)
We have to be careful that our need for instant gratification does not supercede our characteristics as children of the most high God. Also, we have to be careful not to take our eyes off God and His purpose in our lives.
While we are in such a hurry, I typically wonder why we can’t just let life happen and not MAKE it happen. Where are we trying to get in such a hurry? Why can’t we slow down and enjoy the journey. I wonder if we take that same attitude of impatience into our relationship with God. When you are praying, are you impatient with God expecting instant gratification?
2 Peter 3: 8 says, With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you.
When we are praying and asking God to intervene we have to be patient. Sometimes it may seem that God has forgotten you or will not respond to you but take heart. He hasn’t. God is not slow and He is also not on our timetable. God does not have the same limitations we do. God is completely unrestricted by time because He is eternal! We can always depend on God. So as you go to and fro in your life, remember that although our technology is instantaneous, our lives with Christ are to be lived with patience and understanding that God is above our restrictions with time. Teach your children well that they should not expected to be amused at all times. Teach them humility that will combat narcissism through scripture and in life experiences. Show them how fortunate they are by taking them to serve others less fortunate than themselves regularly and allow them to gain an understanding of the world that shows them that they aren’t the only ones that matter. God cares about all people.