I WANT IT TODAY
December 2, 2010 4 Comments
We live in a world of instant communications, where global trends happen overnight rather than taking months and years to develop. (See « The Pesto Effect » posted 22 July 2010).
In fashion for example, everywhere in the world (from Australia to Zanzibar where I have seen it personally) male teenagers seemingly overnight adopted the « pants falling off » way of wearing their jeans, based on the prison look after the removal of inmates’ belts, leaving their trousers to struggle between gravity and decency.
In the same way, we have built a belief that everything in life should be as instant as refreshing a screen on broadband, and so in western nations we have built a culture of the need for instant gratification in all aspects of our lives.
The idea that wieight loss and control should be based on sensible diet and regular exercise has been replaced with the search for an instant cure for obesity. The internet is full of instant weight loss remedies. Pills that will immediately shed fat, no matter what you eat, are now touted as a realistic answer to weight contriol, and I am sure have also fuelled significant share price increases in companies that manufacture incontinence pads, as the body disposes of all this fat through the only outlet available. I am surprised that McDonalds hasn’t realised the marketing impact of including one of these pills with every burger, or just grinding them into their meat patties.
I once saw a young couple in a mall in the US, who together would have tipped the scales at over 300 kilograms (660 lbs), wearing identical t-shirts with the Nike « Just do it » slogan emblazoned in giant letters. They had obviously embraced this slogan when it came to devouring anything that was edible within their reach, but that was OK in their minds as I am sure that they would have believed that soon they would have access to a miracle weight loss cure that worked while they slept, or ate.
Steven Wright (US comedian) had a similar encounter as he describes « I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with Guess on it. I said, Thyroid problem? »
Liposuction has become the most popular form of cosmetic surgery, being added to the hens night as one of the must-haves for any young bride-to-be, just to be able to squeeze into a wedding dress 2 sizes smaller than normal.
It seems to be the same attitude when it comes to wealth creation.
The idea that you work hard and well and take some prudent financial steps along the way, like buying a home and adding value over time, has been replaced by the IPO.
The belief is that all you have to do is join (or found) the right company at the right time and wait for it to list and then you can retire to the Bahamas or Monaco or some other tax haven to watch the sun set over your beachfront property. We only need to look at how many people have done this in companies like Microsoft, or at the founder of Facebook, and then we can all believe that it is possible.
Would that it was this easy !!!!
Unfortunately for most people it is also improbable, because while we all know of people who have actually achieved this almost instant wealth, the numbers are really very small, in the same way as are the number of people who win massive jackpots in national loteries, and the people who wake up one morning having miraculously shed excess weight overnight.
It means that instead of focussing on values like hard work, diligence, commitment and excellence in how we live our lives, many are building lives based on hope, and hope is never much of a strategy for success.
We have also just seen this same need for immediate returns in the US mid-term elections. Whatever you feel about the Obama presidency, no matter whether you are a Democrat, Republican or a tea-partiy supporter, there seems to be a belief that because things have not changed overnight then something must be wrong.
I realise that there are other issues with the Obama administration, but it still seems to me to be incredibly naïve to believe that any US President can effectively change the direction of a behemoth like the US in just 2 years, particularly after 8 years of GW Bush, in the same way that it is naïve at best to believe that a magic diet pill can, in just a few weeks, change the effects of 20 or 30 years of eating too much high-calorie high-fat food.
I am a great believer in change but, even for those of us who want everything to happen in real time, this obsession, with receiving everything that we desire instantly, seems to be getting seriously out of hand.