Instant gratification, permanent remorse
DWACRA groups suddenly came alive this election season much to my chagrin and my maid’s delight. She scampered in for work at unearthly hours declaring that she had to leave early as attending meetings was mandatory and delays would not be tolerated.
Used to her record delays I was to discover that this punctual attendance was largely due to the “free money” distributed to group members by candidates in the fray and she didn’t want to suffer from “FOMO’’ (fear of missing out) which she may have voiced aloud had she had been sufficiently literate. Was she aware that those who paid money for votes looked at ways of recovering it from money intended for their welfare?
Although this is an example of corruption that makes ‘free and fair’ election a complete mockery it is also a case of immediate benefit overweighing long-term concerns. So, what’s new, you may ask?
Even though this is not a new phenomenon in our polity, it remains more firmly entrenched than ever on the list of many “Instant Expectations” in today’s constantly connected world. “Instant Gratification’’ or the tendency to forego a future benefit in order to obtain a less rewarding or immediate one is all-pervading in a society that cannot work or wait for anything long term. Instant acknowledgement, success and money are some millennial goals at the root of stress where the urge to reach the finishing line without running the race is at its peak.
Ethics are compromised, systems sabotaged and quality lacking in many projects because somebody’s greed and desire for ‘‘instant gratification’’ can get things done. The culture of “greasing palms” or “under the table’’ transactions can get you out of any kind of trouble working through the “quid pro quo” model where one party has the satisfaction of work done without delay and the other of extra income available instantly. This all-pervasive principle affects simple things from ineffective diet regimens (where instant gratification offered by fat rich foods) throws caution to the wind to more serious government projects that dole out subsidies and sops giving instant satisfaction but rarely alleviating suffering or offering long-term solutions to beneficiaries.
There can be any number of examples to show that instant gratification can lead to permanent remorse. Paul Roberts the author of ‘The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification’ discusses this phenomenon in entirety warning us about its perils. What he says in the book is relevant not just to America but to all of mankind caught in the instant bubble.
“The notion of future consequences so essential to our development as functional citizens, as adults, is relegated to the background, inviting us to remain in a state of permanent childhood when we give in to instant gratification,” he says. Those looking for short-term gains are often long-term losers. Their ignorance is akin to one who cuts down the branch of the tree on which he is seated. Only the realisation that instant gratification leads to permanent remorse can save them.