I remember when I was growing up, that not everything I wanted was available. After all, I grew up in a simpler time where not everyone had a credit card, and not everyone had a mobile phone. I grew up at time when weekly allowance meant exactly what the term implies, an allowance your parents gave you at the start of the week, and it was your sole responsibility to make that allowance last for the next seven days to come. That was way back in the 1980s and 90s.
For a good portion of the 1980s, we lived in Greece. There, we quickly got used to the fact that bananas simply didn’t exist. In fact, we only ate bananas when our relatives came to visit us from Kuwait because they would bring the bananas with them as a gift, along with other things that we as Arabs missed, like Turkish coffee.
During my childhood kitkats and falafel were also reason for celebration, simply because kitkats were not available in Athens and Falafel was something my mom made at home when she felt like it. In fact, till this day falafel holds a soft spot in my heart and kitkat is my favorite chocolate, because to me these simple things are attached to the memory of enjoying them after the wait.
When we returned to Amman, I spent my teenage waiting and that was the case with everyone my age.
Back in the 1990s, we waited for our favorite sitcoms or series to come on TV, because our favorite shows only aired once a week, on one channel, at 8:30 pm. We waited for the Thursday night radio show in order to make mixed tapes of our favorite songs, and we waited for the weekend so that we can go out with our friends. You see parents at the time were less involved in the school activities of their kids yet they were more firm. They expected us to do well, on our own, with no questions asked.
So, I was a teenager at a time when the simple rule of “You cannot go out on a school night” applied. I also went to college at a time where one computer in the university computer lab had an internet connection, a time when we had to go to an internet cafe to use the internet or simply get a dial up connection for our homes. We were not even able to use our home internet whenever we wanted simply because it meant that our landline would be busy while we were using it.
The waiting back then made the very act of getting what we wanted worth it. Waiting to find out what is to happen next in a series came with excitements and anticipations that would start conversations and that brought families in front of the TV. Knowing you only had 30 minutes to use the internet meant that every second you spent online counted, and knowing that being out of cash meant exactly that, was a fact that forced us to use our money wisely.
To me, the things I valued were the things I got after waiting. No matter how small they were, they had more flare to them because they were not always available.
Having said that, I do wonder about the kids and teenagers of today, what do they wait for? Netflex makes their favorite series available at a click of a button. In fact the term “binge watching” only applies today, because when I was growing up you can’t binge watch anything even if you wanted to.
People’s favorite songs are on their Ipod or on Youtube, and there is no such thing as a product not being available because hypermarkets offer you what you never imagined you wanted.
Even if they fail to respond to your every whim, you can simply get what you want online. Each kid has a mobile phone by the time they turn ten, and many even have iPads or tablets, so what do they have to wait for?
Teenagers go out whenever they want and wherever they want because they can buy stuff simply by swiping daddy’s credit card. Daddy will know what they bought from where. Those who work also swipe a credit card to buy stuff regardless of whether or not they have money in the bank.
It just seems that we now live in a world where most of the things that we feel we want are available at anytime. So, does this easy lifestyle make us spoilt? Does the fact that we wait for nothing these days make us too demanding by nature?
I’m sure it does regardless of our age. Let’s face it, we have all at one point or another banged our fists on the table because we lost our internet connection for a few minutes. Even as an adult I am spoilt now. I do panic when I can’t find my phone, and I do get angry when I can’t find an ATM that works. If the delivery guy is late on our online order we file a complaint about him on social media., and if God forbid, a store clerk did not greet us with a smile and jump to our service, we give him a bad review.
If our Uber driver did not make us the center of the universe during our ride, we shamelessly give him a one-star rating. So yes, we have become demanding people who have simply lost the ability to wait for anything. In the meantime, marketers are going out of their way to respond to our spoilt nature. Spas out do themselves with offers, beauty salons call us up to tell us that we can look fabulous with minimum cost. We have even become too demanding for our own bodies, where a wrinkle that is only the cause of natural biology is fought and treated the minute it dares to appear, a nail that is broken is fixed, and a hair that is the wrong color is dyed.
While life has definitely become easier, we as people have become harder to please. We as people have lost the ability to find joy in the little things, because we have simply forgotten to wait for anything we wanted. Life is easier, but it has become blander . So, please don’t forget to stop and enjoy the little things.
Food for thought!