Monday, 11 March 2013

The Instant Gratification Syndrome-Consumer Trends in the 21st. century and the Instant Coffee Attitude towards life

Today, more than ever we are living a life based on the need for  instant gratification, an age which is based on the  "instant coffee" approach and is  dictated by consumer trends and market forces! A life based on multitasking is certainly not for those who believe in the bread making approach, nor is it for those who are weak-hearted!  Who, then, is a successful person in today’s  world? Well he is one who conjures instant solutions, and expects the same in others, he, or she is full of restless energy, has a device that can take on any role, be it making calls, browsing the net or even backing up as a camera. Enter the Everyman of the twenty-first century - he is one who serves instant gratification!
So then what we are today is defined by the technology we use. Our consumer trends are dictated by what we are told is good for us. Could it be that “intimations of immortality”  are driving us towards omnipresence or perhaps even omnipotence? A Cover Story Article by Mala Bhargava  titled, “One is Not Enough” in the Business World Magazine dated 10 December 2012 sums it all! Why are we obsessed with  super devices if not for instant gratification? Is the habit of multitasking the result of marketing trends that have popularise devices that can multitask? Are we falling victim to the concept of convergence, whereby everything converges in one device? Is it that we want everything instantly because we have no time and want to do many things at the same time? You could be watching your favorite programme on T.V., drafting a thesis, answering the phone and sipping green tea, all at the same time!
Are we then, defined by the devices we own? Today you have a smart phone that backs up as a handheld computer, you can access word documents, your internet account on the go, and when you are challenged by a colleague about some fact, then you can access the net for information that proves him wrong! All this can be done in a jiffy.While walking to work, you switch on your device to check whether there is an update on you mail. While waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, your send a short message to your friend telling him to meet you.  You see something interesting on the road, pull out your smartphone and take a snap! You are the everyman of the 21st. century,  you multitask: word process, take photographs,  express  opinions on social issues, have many connections on the internet,  and as a  professional, are always connected to your place of work, you are never out of reach, even on a Sunday! As a hobby you churn out articles  and publish them instantly. What used to take a number of handwritten drafts can now be done instantly!
If we are exponents of instant gratification today, it is  because of how technology has rewired our brains. Consumer trends have dictated that we have become the “Right Here, right now” generation today(title of the article appearing in the Hindustan Times business supplement page 21 on 11th. February 2013). But then we are not only beholden to devices that can multitask, we are also obsessed with consumer goods which can deliver instant magic. You have instant fairness solutions that promise a fair skin in no time. Wrinkles, well this cream will remove 95% wrinkles in one week (based on consumer satisfaction surveys)! In an age where the consumer is king, nothing is impossible according to marketing firms that market products with magical properties! Why do we have such magical products? Well it is because today we want instant solutions! We have become so impatient today, that anything that doesn't give us instant gratification is discarded.
Can we then blame Marketing Firms that promise instant solutions or for that effect manufacturers who come up with amazing products that promise fair skins and slim bodies in a matter of days? Are we headed to a situation where we just can’t concentrate on one thing at a time? Are we becoming an impatient generation driven by market trends that offer magical solutions?  Why should I sweat it out on a tread mill, or go cycling when the device being offered on T.V. can help me burn calories and achieve the same results immediately? When you can have immediate results, then why should I slog and sweat? I guess the answers to all these questions may  have something to do with a market driven culture. We are becoming victims of Propaganda Techniques that seem to indoctrinate us towards adopting newer technology and resorting to instant solutions in our personal lives. In an era of the use and throw philosophy, we do not hang on to commodities for a life time.  In an age when mobile phones become obsolete within six months, we have learned to avoid commitments even in personal relationships. The market is apparently driven by our appetite for newer products. Is it driven by our desire for newer relations? I guess this will happen eventually, when live in relations are offered, and one night stands are promised all for a price!
From the Sociological point of view, the age of instant gratification has resulted in young people not wanting to get into long lasting relationships, so you have the trend of short live in relationships, one night stands, multiple partners, and a life bereft of emotions. You enter into a relationship, achieve gratification and then move on to another one! Does this sound disturbing? But then isn't the market selling the very idea of instant gratification? Isn't it all about shortened product cycles?  The trend of instant gratification has an obvious impact of the social fabric of life because the consumer is the fuel that drives market forces.  No one today has the patience to wait for the right time, or the right moment. The bread making attitude is definitely out. You don’t have the time to kneed the dough and wait for it to rise before putting it in the oven to bake! It is surprising how instant relations are promised on different websites today. There are advertisements which offer to connect you to lonely people, advertisements which offer to connect you to girlfriends, and so on. Does it mean that human relations are now dictated the hunger for instant gratification? Are we today looking for relationships with no strings attached? Marriages of convenience, marriages  dictated by    market trends?
That brings me back to the Everyman of the 21st. Century. He or she multitasks, is impatient in life, and wants instant solutions. He expects everyone to be more precise and  well informed. I guess everything does connect, finally!  In an age where fairy tales and magic in story books are frowned upon as figments of imagination, nothing short of fantasy, we are ironically headed towards the very premises of magical solutions. The witches' broomsticks and the wizards’ wands have been replaced by smart phones, while magical potions are available  in the form of fairness creams, hair oil that promise the growth of hair on bald skin, and other products that promise to make you young again! All of this is driven by a hunger for Magic -  hunger that has been whetted by the absence of adventure and the thrill of the unknown, driven by market forces, and the assumption that everything can be had for a price! Impatience, irritability, and surliness are some of the traits of  Everyman today!
Technorati Tags:

No comments:

Post a Comment