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Alyssa Ahlgren: Our Obsession with Instant Gratification
Our culture has developed into one of passion, impulse, emotion, and self-worship. This is especially prevalent in the young generations. We’ve been raised with an aversion to delayed gratification.
Patience is a dying virtue. We get aggravated when our browser doesn’t load on our Smartphone instantaneously, we get annoyed when a package from Amazon is delayed by one day, and we rather spend the extra money on AirPods rather than put it in our savings. This is not a self-righteous lecture; I am guilty of succumbing to the pull of instant gratification. It’s all too easy – in a world of immediate goods, services, and convenience, our tolerance to delayed results has become one of our biggest vices. This intolerance has festered in every facet of our lives; creating a culture that seeks immediate satisfaction at the expense of not only our future but our character.
The chase of immediate gratification requires uninterrupted focus on one thing — yourself. Our desires, urges, goals, ambitions, no matter how well intentioned or destructive are the fuel that drives our every action. Our purpose is not rooted in any higher calling but on what minimizes our perceived suffering and maximizes our pleasure. This is why religiosity is rapidly declining while narcissism, the idea of self-love, depression, and suicide skyrocket. Religion requires you to seek glorification of God. Depression along with self-love and narcissism requires you to seek sanctification of yourself.
Our hyper focus on the self and our selfish ambition has produced adverse consequences in our society beyond rising rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, and rampant entitlement. Marriage rates have declined while divorce rates increase. Open relationships, polyamory, and other non-monogamous arrangements have been steadily increasing in popularity in the past decade. Young people are delaying marriage and younger couples are having fewer kids resulting in a decline in the nation’s birthrate.
Why live for a spouse or kids if you can live for yourself? Sleep with who you want, skip the 401k and travel, get a puppy instead of having a child, go to that $60k university and spend it partying while majoring in Gender Studies, ignore the Bible because all it really does is make you feel guilty, your “heart” should be your guide, and do whatever “feels right.” These are the commandments of today’s generations. No longer do we feel subject to what we all viewed as objective morality provided to us by Judeo-Christian tradition. The very tradition that built Western society and afforded us all of the luxuries we now covet and abuse in our quest for instant gratification.
Our obsession with meeting our wants immediately has given rise to an economic system that killed 100 million people in the 20th century alone; socialism. The idea of receiving the privileges made possible to us by capitalism free of charge has clouded our judgement, intellect, and frankly, our sanity. Free college, free healthcare, free housing, and the insistence of putting the word “right” in front of everything. You have a “right” to an abortion, a “right” to tuition forgiveness, or a “right” to not be offended is the prerequisite for policy popularity. Everything is looked at through a short-term lens, while the long-term suffers. What is labeled “free” will inevitably be paid for. What is labeled a “right” has a hefty price tag at the expense of individual liberty.
Giving into our every whim; we call this freedom. But it’s not freedom. In fact, it’s the opposite. Feeling the need to act on every sudden impulse, emotion, or desire to feel that temporary rush of pleasure and satisfaction is not liberation; it’s slavery. You are a slave to your impulses, shackled to mere brain activity that holds no obligation to logic, ration, or morality. True freedom is discipline. True freedom is being overwhelmed by the urge to take the shortcut, to give into depravity, or act on a destructive behavior and saying no.
Superficial indulgences of life have consumed our existence as we’ve adapted to an instantaneous world. We do need to focus in on ourselves, but not for hedonism but rather self-reflection. We need to step back and realize there is more to life than acting on our temporary emotions and calling it deliverance. The easiest thing anyone can ever do in life is give into every possible feeling. It’s discipline, patience, self-control, and looking beyond yourself that is hard. We live in a society where living for more than our own instant gratification is going against the grain – it’s being a rebel. I don’t know about you, but if going against the grain means giving up a life of confinement to instant satisfaction for long-term fulfillment then call me rebellious.