The Speed Of Want is a chapter title I read in the recent (great) book by therapist Lori Gottlieb Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019). In it she alludes to what I think of as the human evolutionary trait of finding faster, easier ways to the goal, with none or less of the hard work necessary to accomplish it. Witness the recent college admissions cheating scandal. In modern times, think of the changes that have occurred simply between the start of the industrial age and the present that have impacted our lives with mass production, instant worldwide communication, and outsourced labor due to advanced robotics alone.
But there are unintended consequences to this ‘need for speed.’
Why The Push?
Here are some examples. The push for our high schoolers to do AP coursework, then test out of those courses, is one example of this desired speed. Another example is the sense of disconnect (read loneliness) you often feel in society even though social media and the internet infiltrate our daily existence. Often you cannot go more than few seconds without checking your phone for the latest comment. You hurry to check as you leave one meeting and head into another. You have to constantly monitor work/school/your children’s deadlines, lest a competitor beat you to the punch. You hurry in traffic, only to be slowed by congestion, a detour, a speeding ticket, or a wreck from someone else’s need to rush.
We push to hurry because we believe we lose something if we don’t hurry, but what do we fill our “saved” time with? More social media? A faster graduation time? A new social comparison? Another product we don’t need? Netflix? Or cramming something else into our lives?
I’m not railing against progress. I’m questioning excess and harmful shortcuts. The speed of our want generates requirements we believe we need, and need now. Many profit financially and otherwise from these anxious needs.-Page Rutledge, LCSW
Who Benefits, Really?
To live a life that is meaningful requires that we choose carefully what we fill in the spaces with. And to ask ourselves “Who benefits?” from this almighty rush? Perhaps it is the entire AP testing industry, where a “non-profit”, the College Board, had revenue of $200 million and a profit of $62 million by capitalizing on the angst of students and parents. Maybe Facebook’s 2018 ad revenues of $16.6 billion are an indicator of how social manipulation wins that corporate honeypot. Could it be that the diet industry (it alone is worth over $66 billion in profits) and the healthcare industrial complex profit by our sedentary habits and our drive for immediate gratification? Food soothes. Screens soothe. The “right” test scores soothe.
One industry I know for sure that profits is pharmaceuticals since 1 in 6 ( and that is 2016 data!) Americans are ingesting psychiatric medications. Swallowing a pill is so much easier than living the examined life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to medications when absolutely necessary, but 1 in 6? Really?
You hurry, you push, you plan, you anticipate, you worry, but you don’t get this day back. Time is a non-renewable resource. Less of us are choosing to spend the “extra” time we gain by our advances with our family and friends–I mean actual face-to-face time, deepening our most precious relationships. If you are interested in looking inside of yourself to discover what makes meaning for you, call me. If it makes sense to you to do this work before you look to antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications for the “solution”, I’m here, waiting. You can message me here.
P.S. You can also schedule online by scrolling to the bottom on the homepage and pressing the blue button. Select new client if it is your first time. Existing clients may simply select “existing.”