Instant Coffee. Instant Mashed Potato. Instant Messaging. Instant Gratificaton.
Everything in an instant.
What happened to; “All good things take some time”, “Slow and steady wins the race”, and, “the more you put in the more you get out”?
I’m not a fan of instant. I love freshly ground coffee, homemade mash and long evenings with my friends. I prefer open fires to central heating, choose stairs over lifts and get more pleasure from books than from films. I guess I’m the tortoise to the majority’s hare. From where I’m sitting, it seems the focus has become the instantaneity itself, rather than the potential benefits from performing the task in an instant. I also reckon our brains take a little bit of time to catch up and thus spend most of the day under heavy fire without a moment to properly take things in… process…. do the internal filing. The constant alert status our bodies have to maintain in order to handle the sheer volume of bleeps and ringtones and alerts and reminders, requests, comments, emails, texts….. By the very nature of instant, we’re just filling each day with too much distance run and thus falling into a constant state of mental exhaustion.
What’s the rush?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Quote: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off http://youtu.be/HbR7axof1wk
We say, “life is short”, “life is precious” and yet we’re diverted from the actual act of living by all this technology and our inability to moderate our compulsive behaviour. One day we’ll look up from texting and googling and realise our lives have passed us by…….and we’re suffering from self-induced vision impairment.
I do appreciate that many people choose to live in a constant blur and ‘instant’ probably seems incredibly helpful. I understand that to those the blur is the buzz. When I lived in the blur I still found instantaneity unfulfilling. Rushing here and there, cramming so much in that none of it left an impression other than the blur itself. In our shared house in the city I introduced a weekly ritual of getting together and cooking a big roast dinner. Whatever form of instant sustenance we had lived on during the week would just keep us right till the much anticipated Sunday roast, which would in turn keep us right through the next week of instant, unfulfilling fodder.
We seem to want to cancel out the delicious and tantalising anticipation that comes with waiting for something we desire. That frisson in your stomach or rousing of the palate. What’s wrong with feeling hungry for a few minutes more? Why should someone stop mid-discussion to text a reply to your inane question about next week’s meeting? Do you really need to tell me for the third time that you’re en route? Anticipation even sounds good when you roll the word around on your tongue, it’s almost onomatopoeic.
I’ve always found that anything done or decided in a rush is usually a recipe for leisurely repentance. I find that substance is lost through speed and instantaneity… Not only do we lose the thrill of anticipation but also the joy of quality and attention. How can you give your best in an instant?
Halve the quantity, double the quality. Shouldn’t ‘instant’ free you up, not swamp you?
I live as slowly and simply as I can without being some kind of hermit weirdo, ambling around the fringes of society, eyed suspiciously, out of touch and shunned. It’s quite hard actually. Stepping into the blur every now and then, to try and maintain a sliver of balance, is like stepping into the path of an oncoming train. The onslaught of demands in order to maintain the instant culture is an assault and I feel as if I’ve been trapped with a load of hyperactive children for the duration. Constantly demanding every inch of me. Never listening properly. Always on to the next thing. The problem is that I literally can’t jump in with both feet and join ’em. I’m too busy experiencing life to have the time to let everyone know what I’m doing every five minutes, with accompanying photographic evidence. I’m having a dance while my coffee is brewing. If I say I’ll be there next Thursday, I will. That’s it. Unless I contact you and let you know otherwise.
I miss my friends who are too busy texting. I miss sharing the jeopardy of using a map. I miss the relaxed assurance that noone around us is taking photographs. I miss debating a point rather than googling it. I miss simple. I miss slow. I’m bored of people ripping the heart out of adventure with their satnavs and gps. I’m frustrated with the number of social interactions that leave me feeling I could have better spent my time, as my companion was constantly on their bloody phone. Perpetrators of phone-related rudeness, which is pretty much everyone, should understand that to the other person in the room, the one whom you have bothered to meet up with, it feels as if you’d rather be somewhere else. Now, if that is the case, I only speak for myself here, I’d rather you gave me back my precious time and we didn’t bother in the first place. Don’t be ‘polite’ on my account.
My phone is a tool. Nothing more. It massively facilitates part of my life and my work but doesn’t dictate my day. I don’t drop everything the moment it demands. I love my friends but most of them, nowadays, are like crackheids – slightly wild-eyed, totally distracted and completely addicted. Even a light-hearted ribbing makes them defensive and protective of their “preciousssssss”. Don’t get me wrong, the information and capability in our hands is thrilling, humbling and mind-blowing…… but balance and moderation are soothing for the soul.
Let’s down tools once in a while and share a pleasure that is only growing scarcer and more precious; our undivided attention.