Monday, March 18, 2013

Instant Gratification—Just Add Water!

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 
James 1:14-15

     Frozen meals, pre-shredded cheese, instant coffee, pre-cooked bacon, cake mixes, pre-made pie crusts, fast-food, boxed dinners, microwaves, high-speed internet, instant movies, instant messaging… shall I continue? Have you ever noticed how lazy our society has become? How low our patience level has shrunk? How the industry has pushed our temptations for our demanding whims? How so many people have the instant gratification syndrome?
     The instant gratification syndrome is basically the condition of urgently wanting something (usually trivial), having to and fulfilling that demand immediately, or otherwise creating a fuss or grumbling when you can’t have it right away. Now this is a basic, sinful, fleshly desire which everyone (including me) has at one point in their life. But the problem is many are unaware of this syndrome which they have and don’t realize what has happened to them while the culture is feeding this sickness.

     Look at the food industry. If you walk through a grocery store, much of the food is pre-made, ready for you to just add water, pop it in the microwave for a couple minutes (because the stove top takes way too long), and dinner is served. Who has time or motivation to cook a full, homemade meal anymore? Fast food restaurants pepper the streets, offering a meal in minimum time at drive-thrus. Want supper now? Cha-ching! 
     Look at spending. With just a quick swipe of a credit card, we can buy whatever we want. Loans allow people to make major purchases, like houses or vehicles, right when they want it, even when they don’t have the money to pay for all of it. Advertisements push impulse buys and foolish spending. Take car ads for example, marketing cars at only so little a month! Buy now! The offer ends soon! However, they fail to advertise for how long you must pay that monthly so little amount; but that doesn’t matter as long as you have that sweet ride right then and there.
     Look at technology. With high-speed internet, a whole world of data sits at our fingertips, ready to satisfy our whims. Suddenly desire to watch the music video to a song, or crave funny cat videos? What’s stopping you from meeting those instant demands? Have you ever felt disappointed or offended when people don’t comment on your newest Facebook status or like the video you posted, because you crave that gratification? Just look at the first word in “instant messaging.” Phones, formally used to simply make calls, can now access high-speed internet, play music, present games, store data, deliver instant messages and texts, access email accounts, and include many frivolous applications—all within hand’s reach.

     Now look at the effects of instant gratification syndrome. Food and mealtimes become just something to shove down our throats as fast as we acquire it, instead of meaning so much in that God has provided this meal, and Mom has worked hard to prepare this wonderful dinner. That truly fulfilling satisfaction of presenting and savoring a meal hard worked for is lost on fast-food and boxed dinners. Plus, packaged food reaps unhealthy consequences on our bodies.  Impulse buys rarely pay off the price, may lead to debt, and demonstrate a lack of self-control and wisdom. Working hard and saving up to buy that sweet car is so much more genuinely gratifying and is a wiser use of money than buying what we want, when we want. With internet, we get frustrated when the browser takes more than a few seconds to respond, labeling ten seconds as “slow.”

     I’m not saying all of the above is evil. Loans might be necessary for pressing issues. Instead of sending a letter for weeks in transit on horse or boat, technology has assisted in quicker communication. Looking up Scripture is so much faster and easier with internet search engines (and there’s nothing wicked about funny cat videos, although I’m sure you could use your time better). I eat pre-cooked, frozen sausages! And they’re delicious. 
            However, we must be careful how we use our instant gratification abilities. Is it just to satisfy an instant demand? Do you become upset when you can’t get something as soon as possible? “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15, ESV). Of course, James is not implying we should never use the internet or eat out, but we should pay attention that our desire for immediate satisfaction should not entice us to the extent that we turn into lazy, demanding slaves of nearsightedness. Do not let the world and your desires sinfully and successfully tempt you. Realize when the instant gratification syndrome symptoms show. Inform and instruct others around you of this ubiquitous condition. And while you’re at it, throw away that microwave popcorn and try buying a popcorn maker and popping corn kernels.  Homemade popcorn tastes much more delicious while you browse for instant movies.



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