Would you like fries with that?


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Instant gratification is the mantra of modern society. We are a society of 3 year-old brats demanding constant attention to our every want, throwing temper tantrums if we don’t get it. I don’t know when it all started… maybe with instant coffee. Maybe it goes deeper than that. Maybe it is the basest of human desires – greed. No matter how many spiritual leaders attempt to beguile us with altruistic philosophy, we are inexplicably drawn to greed. Darwin describes the theory of evolution as the survival of the fittest, but it is this basic drive for survival that dictates human greed. The need to survive is greedy. There are too many organisms on this planet fighting over limited resources, and the only way to ensure survival is to succumb to greed.

This greed has created our modern society. I want it all, and I want it now. We stumble aimlessly through our days, sweating it out in the engine room of the great capitalist machine, just trying to satisfy our pitiful greed. Before we even had a chance to think about it, we had created a society that is based on instant gratification. A world where need has been replaced by want, and it is all just a mouse click away. The natural diurnal human rhythms have been surpassed by 24/7/365, and the rat race has become an eternal marathon. Skirting round the philosophical “where is it all going?”, we first need to understand what it is now.

The naked ape is the most arrogant of all creatures, blindly worshipping our so-called superiority. What we have neglected to notice is that we are subjected to the same basic natural laws that rule all organisms, including the single-celled amoeba. Stimulus and response is the overriding law that governs us all. If you place a single grain of salt in the path of an amoeba, it will immediately, upon encountering the sodium, change its course. Sodium=stimulus, relocation=response. Although this is an example of a negative stimulus incurring a response, the same goes for positive stimuli. Then we have the famous example of Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov wanted to see if he could induce a response that was unrelated to the stimulus. In this case, he attempted to induce salivation in a dog by ringing a bell. A simple enough experiment, it involved ringing a bell just before giving the dog his grub. Repeating this step enough times, Pavlov eventually removed the food from the equation. Upon ringing the bell, the dog would start to salivate - a response indirectly related to the stimulus.

Enough of the first-year sciences, how does this all relate to modern society’s desperate need for instant gratification? Philosophically it relates to hedonism. The pursuit of pleasure as the purpose of life is one that I definitely subscribe to. We are constantly chasing those stimuli that trigger the pleasure receptors in our crania (wow, two Latin plurals in one sentence – sorry). To illustrate the point of humanity’s simplicity one needs just look at the profits of Pfizer. Their little blue miracle pill, commonly known as Viagra, is a perfect example of our shallow approach to modern living. Fast erections, fast food, fast cars, fast Internet connections, fast music! Christ, we even have fast fasts, otherwise known as blitz diets.

Hurtling through time as if Armageddon was snapping at our heels, we need to slow down to a blur. We need to realise that life is more than just simple satisfaction. Believe me, I enjoy the no-holds-barred hedonism, but at the same time I am also lost and directionless. Pondering the thought of my own mortality, I feel this overwhelming need to do something important with my life. I don’t want to die a consumer. I find the term quite insulting in fact. Marketing gurus are circling like vultures over the Lemming masses, attempting to entice the last few cents out of our grubby paws. It is as if pleasure has become a commodity, owned by the multinational corporations and spewed out to the highest bidder. I don’t know where it is all going, but I do know that millions start salivating when they hear the McDonalds jingle on TV.

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