Instant gratification: Our generation’s double-edged blade

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What is the price of knowledge?

“I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now!” Freddie Mercury sang what has become a societal norm thanks to the capabilities of technology. The world of knowledge is quite literally at our fingertips, our generation quite possibly a cautionary tale in the making.

I want to know what the winning lottery numbers are. Siri, tell me. Phone, voice search, and answer delivery in less than 30 seconds. News, knowledge, lifestyle, shopping, and connection are all instantly digitally available for those with a means of access. In most cases, one no longer needs to work or interact with another human to find an answer as the information is immediately available. Such a flooding of content, however, opens up potential issues of plagiarism to an extensive degree, among other problems.

Sherry Turkle (2012), a professor at MIT who focuses heavily on the relationship between human and machine in a world where we are increasingly “alone together” states that we use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings as we’re having them; think, “I share, therefore I am” (para 22). In order to feel more, and feel like oneself, many connect through devices, however this keeps individuals from the ability to separate, gather, and regroup (Turtle, 2012, para 23).

Our ability to immediately connect to a digital sphere that is abundant with misinformation, repeated information, subjective information as well as a misunderstanding for the effects of such content is unfortunately the bane of our current instant gratification society. The brain’s limbic system can reorient our mental and physiological systems toward any number of short-term goals, from eating a donut that looks tasty to screaming at a terrible driver, even though those goals may be completely outside one’s normal mode of behavior (Roberts, 2014, pg. 68). Immediate connection and gratification through devices stimulate the limbic system, and becomes an urge to feed, a gap to fill. As such, Turkle (2012) reminds us of the importance of real conversation and communications; that we need to step away from the devices and approach one another so that we can learn about each other and ourselves (para 4, 14-15). I could not agree with her more. While devices have made the world smaller, true human interaction and connection are still lacking.

References

Roberts, P. (2014). The impulse society: america in the age of instant gratification. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

Turkle, S. (2012). The flight from conversation. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?_r=0

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