On Impatience

No one would ever call me a patient person. It’s just not in my nature, I guess. Once I want something, I want it right then and there. I’m not good at playing waiting games.

But lately, I’ve been wondering if we’re not more impatient as a result of our media consumption.
I watch tv with Mike – usually one of our shows. They’re an hour long (with commercials, average of 41 minutes without). In that hour, we see a situation unfold, explode, and be resolved neatly by the end.

So how much of that are we carrying over to real life?
In simulating real-life situations via television, broadcasting them, creating fantastic realities in which ordinary people do extraordinary things, are we limiting our ability to actually process like humans? Have we redefined reality to be a mirror of these simulations?

Television shows and movies have necessitated the cutting of extraneous things – such as waiting – from their plot lines. It won’t do to have the entire courtship shown in an under 2-hour romantic comedy. Instead, we are treated to a montage, often accompanied by music. Or some sort of situation that represents the relationship.

So the time between things is often understated and underrepresented.

Arguably, our society has started to do the same things. Gone are the days of snail mail, instead, love happens via one-night stands and text messages. War, something sensationalized by television and movies, glorified by the 24-hour news channels, is left forgotten once there is no quick conclusion. We triumphantly marked the fall of Saddam Hussein but have neglected to mark the minutes since.

Everything looks easy. Conflict is solved with a single conversation, brooding becomes a beautiful expression of anguish, and all love affairs are solved with a passionate expression of love at just the right time. People wait for other people, their schedules always magically line up.

Are we becoming jaded? Bombs? Cars blowing up strategically?

Would any of us even know what to do in case of an actual emergency? “I saw this on tv once” certainly isn’t going to help. Those bombs and magic fires that burn exactly where they’re supposed to are movie magic rather than the stuff that real life is made of. Mike and I were talking about being a spy. And I reminded him that being a spy in the real world is hardly as sexy as it seems on screen. Lots of dead drops and waiting.

Even criminal behavior. It’s not that easy to hack into just any old bank system. Or any government computer. Of course, magically, the screens you need are up just in time for you to enter your data. I spend a good percentage of my work day digging through our drives, looking for a single file. And I know the layout. Imagine walking in cold to steal data. Yes, it can be done. But it’s just not that simple.

I often wonder if I am a victim of this kind of conditioned thinking. How have my expectations been molded by the media I take in?
How have certain things become normalized?

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