Best of Slow Journalism: On instant gratification

Where would be we without Delayed Gratification? Not in a very good place, thinks Paul Roberts.

His essay ‘Instant gratification‘, which is the cover story of this quarter’s The American Scholar, warns us of the ‘Impulse Society’, focused on immediate fulfilment of self-serving needs and not so much on the far future.

As we get used to getting personalised solutions to real and imagined discomforts, and getting them at ever-increasing speed, we move away from the long-term thinking which ensured survival in less affluent times. “It was only by enduring adversity, disappointment, and delayed gratification that humans gained strength, knowledge, and perspective that are essential to sustainable mastery,” Roberts writes.

This short-termist thinking, Roberts thinks, has crept into the way we handle business and allowed for “a credit binge that nearly sank the global economy.” It’s also affecting politics, making us less inclined to look for compromise.

If you’re looking for something to read over the weekend, we recommend you skip the listicles and sit down for this interesting think piece on how controlling our impulses could benefit us in the long haul.

The piece is available online here.


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