Microwaves Are Killing Us
These days, everyone wants results really fast. There’s a microwave mentality to everything, like you can click a button and make things happen. Nobody needs things in a little while. They need things right now.
That’s because we live in a society that promotes the end result more than the process that gets us there. Nobody cares about the time that goes into the work being done, just that it’s actually completed.
Think about the discussion we have about higher education. College is valued for the job it provides upon graduation, not by how it might encourage a person’s intellectual and social development. All we care about is the degree and what university it came from, not what went into earning it.
Pop culture sets the trend. In music, acts like Kanye West— a proto-millennial if there ever was one— have provided us with an aspirational narrative, this idea that dreams can come true, you just have to believe in yourself. The self-help section of a bookstore is littered with stuff like this.
But that’s bullshit. Yes, dreams can come true. But they require more than just a fool-hardy belief in yourself. They require diligence, perseverance and tenacity, too. Most of all, they require discipline. There’s no magic wand to wave, just hard work. Consistent and sustained.
We don’t glamorize that part though. Success stories are all we care about. History books have no room for second place. So instead we focus on the star of a championship game, not the team who loses, nor the season-long struggle of getting there, or the off-season the players spent in the gym or the fifteen years of experience that prepped them for that.
Why? Because that work isn’t sexy. It hard. It’s not interesting or enagaging. It’s boring and takes too long. Nobody has time for that.
Technology has allowed us to live life through snapshots, highlights and headlines; we take small pieces, devoid of any context, and make them everything. The buzzer-beating shot that wins the championship. An entrepreneur who sells his start-up. The teary-eyed musician or actor accepting his/her trophy at an award show. We get the final score without actually watching the game.
This plays out on a much more practical level, too. It’s Instagram selfies and Facebook status updates where everything seems perfect. Hey, look at everyone and their exciting and incredible lives. Everything is great, all the time.
“We just had a baby!”
“I just got a new job!”
“Look at me, I’m on a beach!”
“Check out this amazing meal I’m eating!
Nobody wants to tell you about their struggle. Their slow slog to the top. How work is killing them. How much debt that vacation put them in. How they argue with their significant other. How they’re lonely. How that meal at that super trendy restaurant was sub-par. It’s much easier to eliminate this stuff. Why bother with trivialities?
There are no shortcuts in life, though. Those snapshots of perfection don’t just magically happen, and for every highlight, there’s a low one too. Nobody stands on stage accepting a Grammy just because they believed they could. Sure, a delusional belief in oneself may start and end the story— that some’s really basic “life” stuff— but in the middle there is just hard tedious non-glamourous work.
We need to do a better job at acknowledging how much time and effort goes into things— learning to love that process, too— and focus less on the end results. It will make us more productive and we’ll find our lives more rewarding. So maybe you didn’t win a Grammy. That’s cool. Playing music is fucking exciting though. Don’t be bitter. All good things in due time. Just remember your love to play and keep going!