The generation of Now (2): time vs productivity
Following from our previous post on The generation of Now, by taking our relationship with knowledge and experiences as a starting point how might we understand a cultural shift towards instant gratification in terms of the generation gap? Obviously this is potentially a huge topic and we can only outline the briefest snapshot of it here. Hence all thoughts and comments to broaden out the discussion are incredibly welcome. You know where the comments field is …
I suppose a first question would be to wonder what would drive a culture of instant gratification and if this is inherently a bad thing? What is the value of immediacy against its opposite?
The side of immediacy is often understood as a response to a shortness of time and a pressure to use it as wisely as possible. The side of mediacy is something now often seen as requiring a luxury in order to indulge in – the luxury of time. How much is it (or should it be) a luxury though? And how much is immediacy just about shortness of time, and how much is it instead about impact, brevity of articulation (a difficult skill to master) and easier translation across knowledge boundaries?
Both sides of the diagram are important. As ever, when sketching oppositions, there is bound to be merit on both sides and the notes in black above are my thoughts on what these are. However, the recognition of merit depends on what you are trying to do. I’m strongly in favour of encouraging people to find more time to go on a journey, to make an investment of time, to commit to a path where you must make time to find the meaning in someone else’s ideas by decomposing them for yourself.
But then also, in a constant battle between time (lack of it) and productivity (forever increasing it), I can see a clear advantage to bite-sized chunks of knowledge or experience. As it happens, I spend a lot of time advising people to package their ideas in ways that make the headlines easy to grasp. The aim of this being to facilitate a quick decision from an audience on whether or not to invest more time in those ideas.
What are your thoughts? Are we in a culture of instant gratification? If so, why and is this a bad thing? If not, what makes you think not? What role does the passing of generations play in this, and in your opinion, in what ways are different generations responding qualitatively differently?