Saturday, August 22, 2009

5. The adverse social effects of the instant gratification we have always known from our consumer products and machines

Part 5/7 of the series. It's amazing how the thoughts that you have in your head seem to come up from other sources in daily life, isn't it? I was just in my Business Ethics class, where my professor showed the class a video of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. (which I will post below). He then asked people about taking an ethical oath. Most of the students had a problem with said oath because they want to reach success and wealth as quick as possible, which leads me to the point of this post.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
MBA Ethics Oath
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Is it just me, or does it seem that no one really wants to put time and effort into what they do anymore? Laziness is a universal phenomenon, if you ask me (and once again, for the slow, if you're reading my blog you're asking me). I mean, we cut all kinds of corners, pull all kinds of stunts and tricks, and utilize all kinds of fine print manipulations in order to get over on one another. In fact, I'd say we spend so much time trying to get over on each other that hardly anyone has anything worthwhile anymore. We don't realize that good things come to those who wait, and that anything worth having is worth working hard for and investing time in. Nor do we seem to understand that with our work (no matter how menial or lowly the task) we make statements to society about ourselves. Therefore, it is best to take pride in one's work (once again, no matter how non-glamorous the job is). The whole thing reminds me of the movie "Click," where Adam Sandler's impatience (along with the technological advance of a remote control that could control time) caused him to miss the most important things in life.

It's the same thing with any MBA student (which I will be in a few more years). We want success, wealth, fame, and fortune to come IMMEDIATELY! The fact is that it comes with years of dedication, focus, drive, and hard work. So why is it that we want these things to come so fast? Where did all our patience go? The answer is that our patience went AWAY. It went away because we very seldom use it, and therefore don't seem to need it. I say that because for Generation Y-ers, there have always been certain luxuries and accommodations available. Personal computers existed all of our lives, as did calculators and microwaves. The world wide web took over while we were in grade school. By junior high, everyone had a cell phone. We love technology because it provides instant gratification, so in general we've never really had to wait very long for things. If you look at the state of morals and interaction in society, we seem to be suffering from the fact that we expect the same type of instant gratification from all aspects of life, including relationships.

Case in point, people are killing each other because they won't cooperate sexually. Like Lil' Kim's birthday party last year or the health club shooting earlier this summer. The culprit at Lil Kim's party (most likely dubbed The Jumpoff by her and her entourage) bludgeoned a lady to death because she had resisted his sexual advances. The culprit in the health club shooting was angry with women in general because he had only scarcely had sex and was not attractive to any of the ladies that he was attracted to. I'd say that things like this happen because we want instant gratification (and by that I mean IMMEDIATE SEX) from our relationships. It's sort of like the film, "A Beautiful Mind." Russell Crowe, who played the main character and Nobel prize winning economist John Nash, goes up to two women during the course of the movie (one who slapped him and dismissed him and one who became his wife) and said some variation of the following:
"Traditionally, there are a series of courtship and mating rituals that we both know will eventually culminate in the two of us having sex. Would you mind if we just skipped those traditional rituals and formalities and got straight to the sex?
I'm paraphrasing in the above quote because I could not find the actual lines in order to quote them here, but - if you've seen the movie - you know that's pretty much what he said. Those scenes in the film perfectly illustrate my point: we get everything else we want with the quickness and we want that to translate over to interactions with the opposite sex.

It doesn't stop there, however. Look at education. The fact is that the majority of students do not want to study or read for any class. I remember taking a sophomore Economics class last year. The policy for this particular class was that anyone who had over a 95 average after the last regular exam would be exempt from the final. I had a 100 average and was therefore exempt from the final. A girl came up to me after class that day, and asked for my help with studying for the final. I told her the formula that I follow to get good grades, which goes a little something like this: Come to class, take notes, define/know/study any and all terms, read all assigned chapters, study the notes days in advance, and ace the test. She replied, "You ain't gon' help me?" I answered, "I just did."
She didn't really want "help." What she wanted was some kind of quick fix to learn weeks and weeks worth of material for the final exam (an exam, mind you, which it had just been announced that I did NOT have to take).  My experiences having been in school for the past 15 years are an obvious indicator that the young lady is not alone.  Many of us don't want to put the time in to really learn, we're used to pointing and clicking. We want to download something or type in a code and have every answer to every question on every test.  We want A's without doing A work.  We want to come to class when we feel like it and retain enough information from that to ace any test while continuing to watch our favorite TV shows, go to every party, sip something before every "last call," and do any and all of the other things besides
education that college has become known for.  It doesn't work that way, time and effort have to be put into studying and academics. Until we realize that, I shudder at the thought of the futility of even the most aggressive education reform.  I also shudder at the thought that some of these very slackers will be business owners, doctors, lawyers, etc. who want to put the same effort (or lack thereof) into their actual work as they did into their preparation for it.  Because all of us are clients or customers of these types of professionals at some point, the vast majority of us may be doomed.  I'd hate to say it like that, and I hope that won't be the case.  Furthermore, I know that there are many students (myself included) who are very focused on their goals, on academics, and being the best students and eventually professionals - in any field - that they can possibly be.  However, as I said to a friend the other day, I find it hard sometimes to understimate the depth of the ignorance of the overwhelming majority of this generation.  It's as simple and plain as that.  I don't know of another way to put it.

If we don't put time, pride, and effort into what we do, then no one benefits from what we do at all. We can't build fruitful relationships, develop substantial attention spans, actually retain information, or honestly (and therefore without consequences) reach the goals of success that we have set for ourselves without patience. I'm not asking anyone to throw away their laptops, iPhones, or any other technological innovations. I am, however, asking us all to demand more discipline and patience from ourselves on a daily basis. After all, we all deserve relationships, products, services - and ultimately, lives - that are worthwhile.