Editorial Notebook

Instaternet gratification

The Internet is a phenomenal innovation. I’m able to access a plethora of academic resources with the touch of my fingers, and it provides an immediate means of communication with friends and acquaintances. This lets me get ahead in my studies and stay close to my friends back at home. Skype, Gmail—you name it, I use it. However, this proves to be a double-edged sword for society’s behavior.

With applications such as Netflix and websites such as Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube, people have become conditioned to instant gratification. Netflix allows viewers to watch content immediately without advertisements, while YouTube offers a similar experience. Facebook and Reddit give users an instant dopamine rush anytime they receive a notification or read an entertaining post. This repeated exposure dulls individuals’ attention spans, and as a result, society has lost its patience.

We just can’t wait for anything anymore. We need things now, and that’s a shame. If you look at the very sites we use, such as Facebook, these tech giants have dedicated countless hours over countless teams to provide a service that, ironically, conditions users to become lazy. Yes, applications like email, Google Drive, and instant messaging all do provide services that make our lives easier, but also dulls proactiveness. We don’t need to write everything out anymore or have to use high latency communication, so we don’t feel the need to act immediately. As a result, when we’re twiddling our thumbs, we’re browsing Reddit or looking at our newsfeed posts; it’s seamless. It’s like most of us have forgotten what it’s like to work hard anymore.

Mastering an instrument, training in a sport, or even working on a thesis paper takes time. But we’ve grown up having things handed to us and having tasks be so simple that working a little bit everyday on scales or shooting hoops seems unreasonable. We think that if we invest time into something, we should get more out of what we put in. However, this is not true; to become adept at the piano or even be okay at basketball, it takes at least a half year of routine practice. And to become a virtuoso, that takes years, and even then, perfect is never perfect.

I’m not saying that all of this media is bad, but this constant stream of information—the instant gratification that we get from looking at posts—hurts our work ethic and our patience. What I’m asking you, as the reader, to do, is take a step back and listen to what I’m saying; take a look from the outside. Be proactive, don’t become content. Additionally, patience is a virtue, and not many have it.

If you pick up an instrument or hobby, you’re not going to be instantly good at it. Dedicate at least an hour a day to it and slowly, you’ll find yourself getting better. I find it rewarding to see, after hundreds of hours of practicing guitar, how much I’ve accomplished, and that means much more to me than an insignificant notification on Facebook.