Americans live in a fast-paced society. We’re used to a 24/7 news cycle with instant updates. Media conglomerates promote “web speed” for professionals and all Americans alike. Internet surfers become impatient if websites take too long to load. On social media there are millions and millions who participate in the minute by minute snapshots of life. On many TV channels images move fast and change rapidly. Audiences are bombarded with sound bites that are entertaining, but don’t tell the whole story. News is presented in 15 or 30-second segments like commercials. Such fare is backed up by weekly polling and telephone interviews to monitor the public’s sentiments.
Radio and TV call-in talk shows demand answers right away, and give callers quick feedback about education, religion, the economy, health, and disasters. Much of this information is sent via pictures on Smart phones. Americans are used to cutting corners, logging on, tuning in, and dialing up for services. We live in an age of instant gratification. By pressing a few buttons some people use the Grindr app on their cell-phones to find dates. Around the nation millions stream videos. DVDs come from Netflix that has more than 8-million mail subscribers. Shoppers receive services on the same day and there are self-checkout lines in stores that keep customers moving. Walmart has Walmart-To-Go, and Amazon is known for expedited shopping. People are used to fast foods from drive thru-windows at McDonald’s, Hardee’s and Wendy’s.
Age of Mediocrity
Critics think that quick fixes might result in nimble thinking. Educators feel learning takes time, and repetition by students to really get it. But Americans appear convinced that “snail mail” is out. They could email friends and coworkers and use instant messaging. Consumers are used to paying a bit more for overnight shipping. We have become a society of texting and tweeting. Some social media accept no more than 140 characters per tweet. What you have to say, say it fast, and in a sound bite. To some, dating is speed-dating. No longer is it required to know a person before deciding on a date. Gadgets and more gadgets have become the name of the game. David Duchovny (b. 1960) wrote, “I’m kind of stupid when it comes to gadgets.” Was Duchovny saying that he has allowed gadgets to rule his life? Or, does he mean that he’s stupid when it comes to knowing what gadgets could really do?
Since all events are happening so fast it leaves us wondering what’s next. In trying to multitask are we forming bad habits of dependency on gadgets? Does our impatience in demanding things now lead to health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity by relying on fast foods? Must we blame capitalism and consumerism for dishing out these sources faster and faster? How must we view our dependency on technological devices? These are surely challenging problems. A record producer, conductor and 27-time Grammy winner Quincy Jones (b. 1933) said, “I have all the tools and gadgets. I tell my son, who’s a producer, ‘You never work for the machine; the machine works for you.’” Is this the lesson we must take away about inventions that keep speeding up our lives? Should Americans pick and choose from the technological onslaught that works best for them? But aren’t we failing at this?
To Christians being wise should be the key when making decisions about American culture. Patience is a virtue, but society’s growing impatience could be a bad thing if not checked. Despite speed everywhere, a believer might be concerned that Americans are heading down the wrong road. But Christians say, “God is in control.” Why must they allow ourselves to deteriorate because of demands placed on us by gadgets? Christians should learn to cultivate patience – the capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience. Daily devotion is essential. By reflecting and praying for wisdom, seek God’s grace. By being dedicated to their faith believers are able to discover peace, love, joy and fulfillment. They know that instant gratification is never the answer to understanding life’s problems.
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