The other morning my mum and I were driving somewhere and I noticed a 24 hour McDonalds. I then launched into an enraged speech about this to my bewildered mother.
My issue was not the fact that there was a McDonalds. I, like many people, love a good portion of chicken nuggets every now and again. No, the problem for me is the fact it was a 24 hour McDonalds.
I was a waitress for approximately a month, and I would get home from that job at about 12:40 am on a good night. Getting home that late every night was rubbish.
Now, I know that many people like working late nights, because that’s how their sleep schedule works. And I also know that night shifts are pretty necessary for say, paramedics, doctors, security…but I’m not convinced that on that list of necessary night shift workers are McDonalds’ workers.
What this whole thing represented to me was the immediacy of our society. If I want, I could drive and get some chicken nuggets at 3am. Or I could go and stream a film on Netflix. Or I could order a package to be delivered to my house in a day.
Pretty much everything in our lives is immediate. At the risk of sounding like an old woman who is afraid of change (no matter how true that may be), I think this is actually really bad.
Before I go on, I do think it’s important to note that I’m not saying everything about modern day immediacy is terrible and we should go back to the old days of board games and carrier pigeons – it’s amazing that I can immediately talk to someone in America over the internet, or buy something from China without leaving my bed. But I think the negatives that come with this are pretty awful.
Because of immediacy, we don’t really think about how what we do affects things if we don’t see results or consequences straight away. For example, say I go and get a McDonalds meal. Not a big deal, right? Not exactly healthy, but not a big deal – it’s just one. It won’t really have an immediate consequence on my body (other than possibly feeling a bit gassy) so it’s not really a problem. Turn that into a few meals a week for a few years and then we have an issue with all sorts of possible health and even monetary issues. But looking at it in the moment and thinking “well, this one won’t hurt” and that idea being reinstated by not actually feeling a problem quickly results in a lack of understanding of consequences for us, because we are so used to everything being immediate.
This goes both ways though. I’m one of these people who gets quite into fitness ‘fads’. “Try this and you’ll lose 16 stone in 3 hours!”. My ideal workout is the one where I finish and suddenly have a ten pack. I’ve tried many of them, and believe me – they don’t work. But because you go in with the expectation that you will “see results in hours!” when you don’t, you quickly become disillusioned and give up.
And that’s the big issue with our reliance on immediacy. Because most of the best things in life don’t have immediate effects when working on them – in my life with God, in my fitness, in my relationships, in working hard at uni or learning to do something new. There’s no quick fix for these things, it’s about being patient and taking time to work at them, and not becoming discouraged when we don’t immediately see anything happening.
I saw a post the other day saying something along the lines of: “Do whatever you want to all the time and don’t take any rubbish from anybody.” I was pretty shocked at this because I realised just how selfish we can be.
Lots of people in history have done exactly what they want to – and this sometimes resulted in mass genocide. A dramatic, but pretty real example. Spreading that we should do whatever we want is selfish and irresponsible because sometimes what we want isn’t good for us or the people around us. We need to work for things, rather than just expect results to come to us.
The immediacy of our world has got us thinking too much about ourselves and forgetting about consequences and working hard. I am not the most important person in the world and sometimes I want things that are unhealthy, hurtful and negative, even though to me it seems like it will have no negative reaction. Consequences are real and need to be thought of, even if we don’t see them happen instantaneously.
Sorry for the slight ranting in this post, but this has been on my mind for a while!