From Novels to TikToks, Instant Gratification and the Rise of Impatience

I’ve had a hard time coming up with an idea for this week’s blog post. While I find it interesting to read about others’ first memories of “The Digital,” mine really consists of a Nintendo DSI, internet chat rooms, and the introduction of multiplayer games.  I consider my real first usage of “The Digital” to be the creation of my first Instagram account. But we will talk about that in another blog post, perhaps…

Anyway, during my search for a topic to write about, I began to feel frustrated. Last week’s post came so naturally – in an instant. Key word “instant.” So… this made me think of my generation’s instant gratification culture. This generational development (or perhaps, devolvement) started before Gen Z, however, I find it is currently operating at its peak. 

So what is this instant gratification and how is it currently being exercised in our daily lives? Let’s start out with how it began: food delivery. When the option for food delivery was introduced, consumers were able to call a restaurant and have food brought to their doorstep in less than an hour. People saved time by avoiding the need for meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. If someone craved a pizza, they could instantly satisfy their craving by calling a Pizzeria to order a pie. Food delivery became so easy that, for the price of a small, additional delivery charge and meal cost, most people opted to forego the effort required to prepare a home-cooked meal. Time is money and so is convenience. 

In recent years came the introduction of DoorDash, GrubHub, and my personal favorite, UberEats. Now, you don’t even have to pick up a phone to place your order. You can simply order through your smartphone using an app and receive your food in less than 30 minutes! The food industry has greatly expanded as a result of these new technological developments. Another example of technology being used to provide instant gratification so as to advance an industry is Amazon’s introduction of Dash buttons. For the unaware, Dash buttons are physical buttons you can place around your home that are connected to your Amazon account. Each button corresponds to a different product. For example, a Doritos Dash button can be placed in your pantry. When you are running low on Doritos, simply push the Dash button and Amazon will ship Doritos to your home. For the same reason restaurants place bread at the table for the hungry customer waiting on their main course, instant gratifications do not last long and substitute the feeling of receiving a long awaited reward. Instant gratification allows us to temporarily give into our current, impulsive “want” rather than our more beneficial, long-term “need.” 

Applying similar logic to something other than food, we can look at social media. Social media permits users to watch brief video clips without the need to commit to a two-hour documentary. Instagram Reels, 30 second TikToks, and less than 10 minute YouTube videos encourage current day technology consumers to use their applications in order to satisfy their desire for instant digital gratification. Stop by. Receive the information for which you are looking. Move along. It’s that simple.  Social media companies use this new instant culture to their advantage through strategic, product advertisements. 

Although the concept of receiving a fast meal or needed information at the quick click of a button sounds nice, I’m afraid it is prohibiting my generation’s ability to focus for long periods of time, leading us to become very impatient. While we used to be capable of reading whole books in one sitting, now, most of us can’t sit through one TikTok without the urge to scroll if we lose interest within the first two seconds of watching. People’s time scale has gone down generationally. How do you relate? How can we change this instant gratification culture for the better?


Stokel-Walker, Chris. ” TikTok exploits our gnat-like attention spans. Are 3-minute videos a mistake?” Input Magazine, July 10, 2021.

Taubenfeld, Emma . “The Culture of Impatience and Instant Gratification.” Study Breaks, March 23, 2017.