by: David Leonhardt
I'm searching for modern happiness. The old-fashioned kind takes just too long. That happiness requires patience and I don't want to wait. I want upgraded happiness. I want release 4.02, the "new and improved" version.
This is the 21st century and I demand instant gratification.
Once upon a time, you had to wait to eat your meal. Even when the Mammoth Burger walk-through was open, they offered only self-kill meals. And when you brought them home, you still had to get the fire started.
"What? Mammoth burger again? How you cook?"
"Ugh. Start fire for cave lady."
"Hah. You probably burn cave down."
"Hah you. No can burn cave down. Buy insurance policy."
"How you start fire?"
"Rub two fingers together. Make big flame. Cook mammoth burger."
"Last time you burn fingers."
Nobody lights a fire these days. People don't even light ovens anymore. It takes just too long to heat up a meal. It takes just too much patience. I'm hungry now, not 40 minutes from now. That's why God gave us microwave ovens. Just pop the food in and whrrr –BEEP- out it comes, nicely warmed for immediate consumption. That's how I want my happiness – toasty warm and right now!
"Ooh. No more burn fingers."
Consider the Internet. You type "electric toothpicks". You hit "enter". Google responds: "Search took 1.02 seconds."
"Seems kinda slow," you think. "Google is ready for the geriatric ward." You click on the first result – something about an electric eel eating a balanced breakfast – and a blank screen appears. You wait.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Did you know that Shakespeare once waited almost twenty seconds for a web site to appear, so he could find a word that rhymed with cardiologist? The web site finally appeared in 1997, but he had given up waiting by then.
Five seconds pass. Time's up and still not site. Your instant gratification cells have been offended. You surf to another site.
"Ugh. No get Mammoth Burger web site. This thing no work."
"That thing rock."
"Rock broken. Go to mammoth burger walk-through"
I don't want to walk to get happiness. I want it delivered now. Not twenty seconds later, even if it does rhyme with cardiologist. Not 1.02 seconds later. I want happiness now.
Remember the olden days when you had to extract your posterior from the couch to change channels? That took such a monumental effort that most people sat through whole television shows without changing channels. Of course, that might have been because the other channel was playing Lawrence Welk.
Back in the two-channel universe there was always something on. Now we flip through 472 channels, which keeps us busy while wishing for something worth watching.
Thanks to the remote control, affectionately known by its technical term – the doodadder – we can flip channels at a relaxed pace of 15 to 20 per minute without even breaking into a sweat. Imagine our body odor if we had to extract our posteriors from the couch each time we change channels!
"Ugh. No like show. Change channels."
"That thing rock."
"Rock need more channels. This play only test pattern."
Happiness should be like television. If I don't get instant gratification, I should be able to change channels with a zap.
The checkout clerk who doesn't care...ZAP!
The driver kissing my rear bumper...ZAP!
The loudmouth yakking in the cinema...ZAP!
The telemarketer who calls during dinner...ZAP!
Come to think of it, all those annoying people in my way at the grocery store, at the ticket booth, in the parking lot, in the waiting room...ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! ZAP!
"Miss Wooly no give me mammoth burger."
"What you do?"
"I zap her with club. Take mammoth burger."
"Ugh. You invent self-serve."
Sigh. Happiness is not like a microwave oven. Nor like the Internet. Not even like a doodadder. Happiness does not run on the instant gratification system. Happiness takes patience. Lord, please grant me the patience I lack...and I want it now!
About The Author
The author is David Leonhardt.
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