Losing our patience

Alan Duff

It is part of our history as humans to build faster and more efficient devices that help us save time and energy. Whether speaking of the invention of the car, which Ford remarked was invented because people wanted a “faster horse,” or of Alexander Bell’s telephone, the desire for faster technology has remained constant.
But with the advent of texting, on-demand features and the Internet, we may have lost the ability to be patient and wait more than a few minutes for what we want.
The Internet is a modern marvel of absolute genius. It allows people from all over the world to connect and for social networks to be formed that never would have be possible only a decade ago. Information is at everyone’s fingertips.
However, our generation has become so used to everything being just one click away that each second of waiting is now felt – painfully slow and lasting much longer than it should.
Websites like YouTube allow for instant access to any song, funny video, speech – the list goes on. Netflix now streams, on demand, thousands of movies straight from its servers to your computer. Websites like Twitter and Facebook ensure that you will always know what your friends and your favorite celebrities are doing every day any time of day.
It seems that now, people must be constantly entertained, lest they have to wait with only their mind to occupy them. Society has become so cluttered with information that ordering a package or a pizza has become an information-filled activity of checking statuses.
When ordering material goods online, for example, you see the travel log of the package, what day it was shipped and how many miles away it is. There is even a feature on the Dominoes Pizza website that allows an individual to track an order of pizza – from raw dough to completed pizza. Your pizza might as well have a Twitter page.
All this information is empowering but also overwhelming. No longer do we see the scene of people in a doctor’s office reading a magazine or resting. Now, they all have their smart phones out browsing and shuffling through thousands of tweets and texts. By demanding the latest information all the time, we have paralyzed ourselves in an information overload.
Tracking every little nuance of information makes us unable to do much else except demand more of the same. We become the clingy boyfriend or girlfriend in a relationship – following anything obsessively – from our favorite music stars’ tweets to packages on their way to us. Even our politicians are on Twitter now, allowing us to sit and demand political information instantly.
With all the entertainment at our disposal, it appears that we have forgotten how to separate ourselves from entertainment, or even how to entertain ourselves. We have forgotten how to do so without the whole World Wide Web there to help. Simply put, when we want something, we want it now, not in 10 minutes, and our attention spans have suffered for it.
Luckily there is an easy enough solution to stop these growing trends: turn it off. It doesn’t have to be all the time – just an hour here and there – but turning off your phone and unplugging your Ethernet cord will prevent you from being bombarded with information. It will allow some time for reflection and thought without interference, and of course, it will teach a little patience.