The generation of Now (3): is instant gratification always a bad thing?
Like creating a daisy chain, I’m going to pick up an observation the last post on the ‘generation of now’ for the subject of this post. Firstly I want to challenge the value judgement implied within the term “instant gratification”. Surely instant gratification is a bad thing? To gain instant gratification implies you haven’t put the necessary work in to deserve the reward.
Or maybe another side to this is the importance of encountering small chunks of things? The idea of communicating in fragments or avoiding large swathes of text isn’t a new one. From my own philosophy background, I am fascinated by Theodor Adorno (German philosopher, 1903 – 1969) who waxed lyrical about discerning a general overview from a fragment of a situation. Before Adorno, the beginnings of German Romanticism were found in a literary journal called the Athenaeum started in 1798. The format for contributions was fragments (or aphorisms) not lengthy, complete works of academia. The idea was to stimulate an interchange of ideas and reflect genuine debate among the scholars of the time.
Short forms of communicating, then, are by no means a new thing. Nor are they necessarily and inherently a format born from a shortening of time.
Fragmentary works often yield something quite quickly which encourages the reader to keep on going or to revisit them. If there is little value found in the exercise of reading a paragraph or two then not much is lost by trying. Digesting small chunks also encourages you to extrapolate and contribute your own thought, making the process of understanding more interactive. All of which is completely in tune with where technological advancement is taking us. We can test the boundaries with lower risk, with less time required and also learning more about our experiments by virtue of having better monitoring devices.
Increasingly, this lowers the barriers to participation, opening up arenas that were previously the domain only of well known thinkers, well established companies and so on. This leads us to a more buoyant exchange of ideas and results, which for me has the potential to increase the number of ways we have to interact with the world around us in a very positive way.
I am still absolutely in favour of taking the long route and really working at something over a period of time to produce something fantastic or to really, fully understand it. But I also think we need some ‘instant gratification’ and some room to play with our ideas, work and world will almost always be better for it. See graphic from Gaping Void below for a perspective I really like on this. What do you all think?
- > In what ways could we harness our creative energies better and collaborate better?
- > My perspective is one of a more extrovert thinker – someone who really enjoys the back and forth of working with other people. I’m wondering to what extent I’ve glossed over the value of a more introverted approach.
- > Last, but not least, to what extent have I blithely ignored a potential generational aspect – that other generations may not be as keen on this test and learn approach that challenges the status quo about thinking and authority somewhat?