Friday, May 24, 2013

I WANT IT NOW! Anticipation in an Instantaneous World

Veruca Salt.

How could you ever forget her puckered mouth or that red Peter Pan-collared dress she wore to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?

You know her. She's the one Violet "The Blueberry" Beauregard wanted to bitch-slap.


Everlasting gobstoppers, mink coats, golden tickets.  Her mantra was NOW.  That snit never had to wait.

Anticipation eluded her psyche as she was perpetually steeped in instant gratification.
Wants, gets and moves on to the next best thing in one fell swoop.

Perhaps Veruca was more than the archetypical brat, but a foreshadowing for the impatience of today's children.

Not that they can help themselves.

When I think about the technological revolution, it is so difficult to remember the former lives of those who once had to wait. Anticipation and patience. Holding out for answers.

A short twenty years ago, the word "text" was associated with a heavy book shrouded in a brown-paper bag.

You waited to know the lyrics of such ballads like "True"--and listened all day to the radio to find out it was Spandau Ballet.  Huh huh huh huh.

Some of us remember the staccato buzzing of a busy signal. And waited to call back.

The sweet opening of a S.W.A.K. letter from your long-distance boyfriend.

The week before you can see your vacation photos.

And (shuddering as I write this) dusty card catalogs and microfiche to research anything.


We've come a long way, baby.

Left your copy of The Catcher in the Rye in your locker?  Download it on your Kindle.
Need those Nike Elite socks for Saturday?  Amazon Prime in two days.
Have an insatiable urge to watch Marcia Brady get clocked in the nose by a football?  YouTube.
On your iphone.  NOW.

Our children are born into cyber omniscience where the notion of anticipation has just about dissipated.
There are apps, Google, texts, tweets and status updates for instantaneous answers.  Everyone knows before it is announced and as it barely unfolds.  Every painstaking detail, too.  Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame has been technologically reduced to under three minutes.

Even when 80s youth demanded "I want my MTV!" we still waited--especially for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video to be played at eight o'clock each night.  We held on to see when Jacko's transfiguration scared the piss out of Ola Ray.

Yes, waiting may be the hardest part--but it also creates wonder, patience and perhaps even perseverance. For those of us born before that demarcating line of technological innovation, we still remember what it was like to ride it out. At the risk of sounding Mesozoic, I remember a time when The Wizard of Oz was shown on network television only once a year as the CBS special.  My best childhood friend Melissa and I stocked up on every candy store treat to celebrate this annual fĂȘte of Dorothy and her ruby reds.  No Betamax, no VHS, no DVD, no internet.  Had to pee?  You'd have to see the damn flying monkeys next year, and only if your aunt called to remind you.

"PUT ON CHANNEL 2!"  Click.

Somehow, we appreciated and savored every minute--because we had waited long enough.

It's amazing to think that we have an emergent generation who will never know what it is like to sweetly exhale after a long-awaited love letter, to look through dusty reference tomes for state capitals and to ever get accidentally, yet wondrously lost in the magical neighborhoods of Paris or Rome.   There are apps and GPS devices and all kinds of search engines to make life easier--and more navigable--to get through these experiences.

And most of the conditioned me would not have it any other way, either.

But there is that part of me that remembers the art of waiting and not having it Veruca-style.
When we wait--we develop such a deep sense of appreciation.  Anticipation engenders us to imagine, to independently write our next lines, to be excited about and savor the moment.

I often wonder what effects of our instantaneous culture will have on future generations.
Will they ever know about sweet anticipation?
Will they wax all of their sentiments--Twitter-esque--in 140 characters or less?
Will they ever say "I WANT IT LATER?"

The irony is that we will have to wait and see.

My inner Veruca Salt wants these NOW....

But of course can wait.
Valentino Microstud Mary Jane Platform in fuschia