Monday, May 13, 2013

Some Effects of a Culture of Immediacy


    There is no doubt that in the United States, and probably to some degree in Europe, we have adopted a Culture of Immediacy. Yes, and I know you're going to say sometimes a Culture of Idiocy as well.  If we need to message someone we send a text message.  We don't busy ourselves at home waiting for a call, we take our cell phone. If we need to send something to our accountant, the mail is not good enough, as we fax it. Very few people enter banks now.  They can check balances, move money, apply for loans all in the comfort of their home, or anywhere else.  Should we really be that comfortable when borrowing money ?  When I order medications for farm animals, I am fine with a delivery time of 3-5 days, but a lot of people have it sent overnight.  I don't need my face cream sent overnight. I am not aging quite that fast.
I can't really think of anything I do that is so urgent that I need an immediate response.  Our primary doctor is fond of e-mail, and we e-mail him and he responds fairly quickly. Although this is a convenience, we are not that sick that we need an MD on the computer calling a prescription to the pharmacy immediately, although I am grateful when he does.  Even the equine vet returns queries by e-mail in a flash.

                    There are some benefits to some of these things.  My daughter replaced her insulin pump overnight once when it was recalled.   I completed thirty hours of mandatory continuing education over the internet which saved me a huge commute to an urban center and days of boredom otherwise, as I read faster than the lecturer can talk.  However, I can pick and choose which one of these speedy tools I wish to embrace.  I carry a cellphone so that if my car leaves me at the side of the road, I can call for help. I use it to call 911 to report weaving highway drivers doing 120 mph.  I like that my kids or husband can call me if they have a bad day, or need to remember the number of the dentist. However, many people, especially young people, can't set limits to their own electronic use. They can't stop texting, even for as long as it takes to drive to get a Slurpee.  They feel uneasy if they can't see their Twitter feed.   They become depressed when someone drops them as a Facebook friend.  I will admit that I do feel better about myself when I read my own Ebay feedback, as if it's really a personal assessment. I must be a great shopper !  I actually have affection for Paypal and I felt happy to see that Home Depot was taking it as payment now.


                    There is also another effect to the Culture of Immediacy.  Financial planners tell me that they are not seeing young clients in the numbers they used to. They attribute this to the consumption of our culture by cell phones, computers, smart phones, and everything else which keeps us very busy in the now.  It seems that those who are consumed in the now, are not setting aside the time to plan for the future.  Setting aside a very small amount of savings for a retirement account at 27 can grow to a substantial sum by 65.  However, if you start saving for retirement at 50, you have to sock away one heck of a lot of money to retire at any time. I don't know that I will ever retire, but wouldn't it be nice to have that option ?
                    Give some thought to which electronic timesavers you use. Do they really help you ?  Pick and choose the ones that really benefit you, and leave the others behind.  Do you know how many people can't call their mothers if they lose their cellphones ?  They simply don't know her number.


Gorges Smythe said...

Email and Facebook are my favorite technologies as far as "immediate" usefulness goes, because they allow me to post and read AT MY LEISURE. Sort of ironic; isn't it?

Linda said...

I love my cell phone. I got it only so I could receive calls to substitute about nine years ago. Relying on the home phone and voicemail got me nowhere. I pay bills, using a check by phone or credit card over the phone. I can check my bank balance on the laptop and never overdraw my account. I used to do that too often. Twice a year is too often!

Those are the only two things I use. My flip phone has the capacity to text. However, if I want to write a word like "purse," I have to key in P; tU; pqR; pqrS, dE. It is labor intensive. Thankfully, I do not want anything fancier because I cannot afford it.

I do carry the phone to talk anytime I want or anytime anyone wants to reach me. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got along before a cell phone. The answer: just fine.

Now that I am older and could not walk more than a block to save my life, I will continue to feel a cell phone is a necessity.

Dani said...

My question is: what do people do with all the time that these "conveniences" have saved them...? Life may be more 'of the instant' but there doesn't seem to be any visible gain in peoples lives - they complete "tasks" quicker, are more rushed, and have less time for the important things like stopping to smell the roses... :)

JaneofVirginia said...

So long as we use these devices to contribute to our lives and leisure rather than become slaves to them, then we are alright. It is ironic indeed.

JaneofVirginia said...

I agree Linda. I have a simple cellphone, but I consider it a necessity. I am away from the farm too often on long trips because it is secluded. To be without one would be foolish. You have found ways to make it work for you.

JaneofVirginia said...

My point exactly. We need to be careful about how many electronic devices we bring into our lives because they don't always save us time. I still pay some bills using paper and envelopes.