Instant Gratification — Some Philosophical Questions


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

25 Sep 2017 – The world has become conditioned to some strange requirements — instant coffee, instant noodles, instant communication and expression of our thoughts. We are usually short of time and want instant gratification. We want to cut down on the entity TIME. We are not really short of time but our perspective of time has changed; in a sense we are followers of the great scientist Albert Einstein who had said in his relativity theory that time is not a fixed entity but can be extended or shortened depending upon the situation at hand. If we are enjoying ourselves with our friends over a bottle of beer, time runs so rapidly; on the other hand, if we are listening to an abstruse lecture, time seems to just remain almost stationary — it moves so slowly and silently brings boredom and anguish.

When we are hungry or thirsty, we do not want to wait for a long time for our noodles, cheeseburger or coffee — we want these items almost immediately. There are pizza parlours that make a show of their prompt deliveries — by the time you have placed the call for your pizza, the delivery boy is outside your door with a sizzling hot and yummy pizza.

This promptness is generally related to our taste buds. But when we have a desire to say something, we also want immediate expression. So, apart from blogs that many people write for, there is the instrument of Twitter where we can transmit our thoughts or feelings in a matter of seconds — instant expression. People then boast about how many people follow their twitter handles.

In this regard one should not forget FB or Facebook where we instantly wish our friends happy birthdays or happy anniversaries or whatever. FB has now become so caring for our feelings that it informs us when an anniversary of our friends is to take place in the next few weeks, so we can plan an event.

Gone are the days of sending a postcard to wish someone. Sorry, there is the new form of post cards but these are digitized to wish your father or mother or your beloved or whoever. And after wishing, we wait anxiously for the recipient of our wishes to thank us. Heavens forbid if he or she fails to do so. Our wishes may then turn to some curse or worse. Advertisers are not far behind — they come up with enticing offers to send gifts along with the good wishes.

Then there are fast airlines or bullet trains to make our journeys swift and comfortable.

White Rabbit in a Hurry – Alice in Wonderland. Pinterest

It’s a joy for the parents, grandparents and the family members when a healthy baby is born. Earlier relatives and neighbours would come and wish the new born and the parents, warm wishes and congratulations and also offer some present in one form or another to the baby and the mother.

Today the situation is somewhat different — thanks to internet, what’s-app and Instagram one can send not only the photo but even the baby sounds of the new born instantaneously. Good wishes flow across from around the world — the more people you know the larger is the number of well-wishers and presents

I often wonder why we are so short of time and expect some action instantaneously without wasting a moment. Are we so busy or so occupied that we can spare only a few moments for our actions?

We are not really short of time but our perspective of time has changed; As indicated earlier the Nobel prize winner scientist Albert Einstein had profoundly altered our understanding of the concept of space-time. His theory was developed to understand some complex issues of Physics — quantum mechanics, the gravitational pull on light that was observed at the time of total solar eclipse etc. But ordinary mortals have used (or misused) the concept of extension of time towards instant gratification of our impulses and needs.

Why do we want our desires or needs to be satisfied without any delay?  What would happen if the burger or pizza that we want came a little later? Would we feel weak or unwell or would out appetite be affected? What would happen if the good wishes and presents sent to a new born baby become tainted or less sincere if they came a week later? Would the baby outgrow the baby clothes in a week?

We want to travel fast in a bullet train, but would we not miss the outside scenery — the twitter of the birds, the rustle of the leaves or the undulating waves in a nearby lake because of the speed of the train? It would be so much better if the train was travelling slowly so we could enjoy the sounds, the movements and the people working outside. Have you seen a male peacock showing off its grand plumage to its female peahen and others? I have seen this beautiful sight when we were travelling at a leisurely pace.  When we finally reach our homes after the slowly moving journey we can relate some interesting tit-bits of our journey to our children and grandchildren.

Yes, speed is important in some situations — when there is an accident on the road and the injured have to be shifted to a hospital; or if there is a building on fire and the inmates have to be evacuated to safety. But these are exceptional situations. In most other cases slow and leisurely happenings and events are good for our souls and bring us peace, harmony and joy.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Sep 2017.

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One Response to “Instant Gratification — Some Philosophical Questions”

  1. DEEP MATHUR says:

    Respected Bhatia Sahab,

    Hope you are having pleasant time.
    It was a pleasure to go through the write-up so nicely penned by you.
    I have always appreciated your style of writing which in this case is also smooth, lucid and enjoyable.
    I fully agree with your viewpoint. The sense of immediacy has cascading effesct on our pschye. The fellow drivers are not willing to wait for fraction of a second at red light. Have we lost power to enjoy journey of life? How can sanity be restored. Would like to see your article on this.
    Wish you all the best.
    Deep Mathur