On misrepresenting success, flaws of instant gratification


Unveiling Society

What causes higher fatality rates in the United States per year: school shootings or lightning strikes? According to the data from the Crime Prevention Research Center and the National Weather Service, lightning is significantly more deadly. Anyone who thinks otherwise is experiencing a phenomenon called the “availability heuristic.” This bias sways our judgment of likelihood, based on how easily examples are called to mind. Lightning strikes consistently cause more death than school shootings, but how often do you see a “Death by Strike” headline in the news? Almost never. Our perceptions are highly influenced by media and it has perverted our perception on the concept of success.

This past week, a new app has skyrocketed in the business world with over 100,000 active users and it is valued around $14 million. The app goes by the name of “Wigo,” and the creator is 23-year-old Ben Kaplan who dropped out of college to work on his new company. The last time I have seen a successful startup of this magnitude was when the “What’s App” company exploded on the news. These simple ideas receive an incredible response, so what is the secret of their success? I am tempted to follow the path of these young entrepreneurs and drop out of college to fully commit myself to my own ideas. However, Rome was not built in a day. After some consideration, I realized that my perception had been corrupted, and that I was not the only victim.

The media is teaching the general public to understand the process of wealth accumulation as a “get rich quick” scheme. We are only exposed to the one in a millionth chance, the buzzer beater game winning shot that surprises and captivates the attention of all — the problem is that they rarely happen. Unfortunately, the majority of people continue to wait for it, anyway. In the real world, the climactic moments of success do not exist. The true, consistent rise toward accomplishment takes years and years to develop, but nobody cares about these stories.

News companies are not going to bother covering the journey of a struggling computer programmer who works everyday for ten years. Bill Gates once said, “I never took a day off in my twenties. Not even one.” However, his story will not attract viewers or promote ratings. Media corporates are just giving the people what they want to see. No one cares about the process when everyone is fixated on the result. This stems from our newfound desire of immediate gratification. As technology improves, every new generation grows a little more impatient than the last. Children today are growing up to be the most stimulated human beings since the dawn of man. The more we are conditioned with this constant stimulation, the more tolerant we become of it, which only helps to create an even higher need to seek it out in our day-to-day lives.

The increasing problem of society is this coalition of instant gratification and self-entitlement. Our expectations conform to the idea that effort immediately equates to results. We live in a world of five-second abs and the magic blue pill methodology. However, these overnight transformations do not work. After a day or a month of working out, we expect to see a thinner, more attractive person in the mirror. If we do not see improvement, we lose motivation and go back to the more “comfortable” lifestyle. These are the unrealistic standards of growth that have been implanted in our subconscious by the media.

The only way to accomplish things is to put in the ten thousand hours of work. The reason we do not see improvement in ourselves after a short period of time is because our bodies have to adapt to change. After eating junk food and living a sedentary lifestyle for years, our bodies become programmed to that way of life. When we change our habits, our whole body is undergoing a process of transformation. This is why the beginning is always the most difficult part. The day we give up is usually the day before we start actualizing results. Whether it is health or wealth, the process is very similar, if not the same. The plateau exists for a reason, it is life asking, “How badly do you want it?”

Be the exception while the rest of the world continues to scratch off their lottery tickets. I would love to win the lottery, but I would much rather deserve to win.

Chris Sha is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. His column, “Unveiling Society,” runs on alternate Mondays.


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