CFN – In my day – and my day wasn’t that long ago – people waited for things.
I recall one day in 7th grade on the bus. A friend of mine gave me a cassette tape catalog and I ordered Dave Matthews Band’s “Under the Table and Dreaming.” My mother was angry, because I didn’t ask permission, but too late. The cassette arrived in a brief six to ten weeks.
Imagine that. A full two-and-a-half months to fulfill an order. Today, I can go on my iPod and have the same music in under 10 minutes. I’m sure someone 10 years my junior would complain that the download takes too long. They know nothing.
I didn’t get on the iPod bandwagon until 2006; I bought one as a present for lasting one year at my first job. For eight years, I filled it instantly with music – no more waiting! As soon as the desire entered my mind – the latest Adele album, the Beatle’s “Hard Day’s Night-“ the music was playing in my ears. It was miraculous!
But then, one day, I dared change the email for my Apple ID on iTunes. Now, Apple doesn’t believe I bought half my music and stupid me, I stopped buying CDs. Because they took too long to arrive via snail mail. And now most of my music is gone.
So I’m done with this instant nonsense. My husband bought me a record player for Christmas (okay, it also plays CDs and hooks up to an iPod) and the day after, I ordered my first two vinyl records. They still haven’t arrived.
Every day since, I’ve checked the tracking number online to see where they are (Portland, Springfield, Secaucus, Albany…almost here!) and eagerly awaited the post man to see if he was carrying the tell-tale package.
People under 25 will look at you with cross-eyed confusion when you explain the joy of waiting. Not in DMV lines or at the dentist, but for something you desire, something you think is going to be the cat’s pajamas, something you can’t wait to have in your life.
Waiting is a form of suffering and that’s half the fun: the anticipation. Remember being a kid eager for Christmas Day to arrive? Every day leading up to Christmas was a torment; the minutes stretched out impossibly so that one day felt like a million.
You were waiting for that moment when your desires would be fulfilled, for your daydreams to spring to life, to have all your questions answered. Your imagination tickled you with these images till you couldn’t stand it anymore. And after all that tortuous waiting, you got your reward. And because you suffered for it, it was that much sweeter.
I still watch the postman arrive with childish excitement even when I don’t expect a package. Will he bring my new record today? What other treasures? Will I get a letter!
Kids know nothing about waiting or anticipation. They think: I want Rhianna’s new album (though I can’t imagine why) and poof, it’s there. Instant gratification – which means no build up, no daydreams, no bated breath waiting for the postman. No delicious suffering.
Not only is this not fun at all, but I think it gives kids a false sense of importance. In a generation already awash in the glow of its own specialness, instant gratification gives Millennials a sense of entitlement.
They snap their figures and their desires are met. The world is at their fingertips. What power to have everything you want instantly appear before you. The monarchs of Europe and emperors of Rome never enjoyed such privilege.
JH Mae is a feature journalist and short fiction writer based in rural northern New York.
She worked for five years at a local newspaper, followed by three years as a secretary.
She recently left the office life to pursue a full-time writing career and now works in her pajamas.