The human species have always been creators and innovators. We have the ability to continuously grow and evolve into our world. We have done so to the point where we communicate through screens across continents, we can travel in a matter of hours, and we can attain what we desire at the click of a button. We now live in a world where we constantly see the success of those around us. The ability to view this success plastered across our screens has created an environment of instant gratification. We very rarely view journeys across social media. We see the awards, the followers and the ‘success’. This creates a realm of desire for the viewers, without the reality of what happens behind the scenes.
At the heart of this movement are millennials and Generation Z. Constant stimulation from social media, and the world around us, drowns out uncomfortable thoughts. We are constantly submerged in little rushes of dopamine, where we have had the ability to attain what we want with the touch of a finger. Shopping has never been so simple with next day delivery and discount codes thrown at our inboxes every few hours. Why feel sad if you can get a new skirt?
Messaging friends and family takes a couple of seconds. Meeting new lovers is as simple as a flirtatious emoji or a DM. Driving this force is social media. Our minds have transformed to crave a like and follow on Instagram, thinking it creates a deeper connection. It has been shown that the endorphins released in this single notification often exceed physical sexual contact, thus devaluing the importance of human interaction. This web of virtual relations creates an illusion that we are all connected without ever having to actually meet up and talk, to understand emotions and body language. In a world that we are more connected than ever before, the statistics for anxiety, depression, loneliness and even suicide are at an all-time high.
The notion of instant gratification is simultaneously evolving online, and in real life scenarios, such as the workplace. We dream of ultimate success and financial security by our early 20’s, but reality hardly ever allows for that. For starters, success is in the eye of the beholder; there is nothing wrong with your nor my version of success. However, beating ourselves up for not having that success three months into our career path is crazy. This is where social media comes back into play: we see highlights of people’s careers and lives online and think that's their full life. Just wait until you discover that this highlight reel is very simply that…the highlights.
With the growth of reality TV shows and influencers, we are constantly immersed in a false reality. These depictions focus on a shallow aspect of people's identity, and encourage us to emulate their behavior. It inclines the viewer to focus on superficiality, and repress emotions. We need to remember that life isn’t as perfect as you see in an image of a TV show. Don’t throw in the towel at the first hurdle because you couldn’t achieve an impossible standard.
Our generation gets blamed for the culture it has created. However, this desire for wanting things instantly has also created a generation of innovators, creatives and entrepreneurs. Instead of falling into place with the traditional workplace of hierarchy, people have fed off the desire for more and created positions and opportunities which 20-30 years ago would never have been advertised. We are evolving for the future, just as our predecessors did.
All in all, like with many things in life, there are most definitely pros and cons to being this way. Let this need for instant gratification be a driving force to work harder and be better, however do not allow it to force you into a world of false connections. Keep the relationships you build real and attainable. Connect with your emotions, and take a break from the screen. Utilise online purchases on a minimal basis. Allow yourself the day to shop in real time, take those few hours for yourselves or to meet with others. Don’t let instant gratification take the driver’s seat. Make sure you, both physically and mentally, are always in control of those immediate decisions as well as those lifelong steps.
Written by: Hannah Mitchell