of instant gratification.
Am I part of a covert marshmallow experiment?
Today I walked into our grocery store. I don’t know where you live, but where I came from shopping has become an overwhelming task: Which store do I choose today, who has the best deals and my favorite products? Off course I always expected to find well stocked shelves with endless choices.
Not so here. We have one grocery store in town. Goods come in once a week, which have already been on the ship for a whole week, when the boat arrives, so nothing is “really” fresh. As quickly as the shelves are restocked, the goods disappear.
Then I tried to open a checking account in our one and only local branch. “Let me setup an appointment for you. Oh yes, we have an opening in 2 days from now. Would that work for you?”. Really? Well, it has to work for me, because I don’t have a choice.
Finally, my bicycle broke down and I needed a new part. That would be a 2 week break from bicycling. Fedex does not deliver to our town, so forget about overnight. Until I can pickup the replacement part from our local post office that would be a while.
Don’t get me wrong, I am here by choice and I am happy with it, being able to have something to eat every day and a roof over my head. Not to mention the amazing, ever changing natural beauty around me.
It just made me think, how spoiled I was by living in a society that fosters instant gratification. Anything I want, anytime. How did we get there? Were our ancestors constantly hungry? Always on the hunt for the next bite? No time to think about consequences in the future? Now that we have plenty to eat, we extend our expectations. Movies on demand have replaced video stores. Online news killed the newspapers. Cubicles and computers… And all that for what? So we can buy and have things that we want. Things that are supposed to make us happy…
I happily accept my new life style. I will be patient. I am not going to live in a cave, but I can wait for the next ship that may or may not bring bread and milk. I can wait for that bank appointment…
Paul Roberts has written a brilliant book about this topic: The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification. And on the subject of choices I very much like the following TED talk: The paradox of choice.