The Ditch of Instant Gratification
Dealing with Bad Habits
I am a hedonist in many ways, as I have this constant urge for gratification which often can push me towards grabbing the nearest thing close to me to satiate this need. In the current smart technology age, social media can be one of such things. I don’t know how much time I can sometimes spend on Twitter and Facebook, and the internet in general. I end up often following the trail of links from my social pages, getting lost in the endless environment of cyberspace. My natural curiosity is itself a curse as a hunger for information, insight debates, views on perspectives on all the diverse topics that I am interested in; such as politics, science, business, economics, film, science fiction, and philosophy.
The internet contains so much information, and indeed most of what was produced by the first generations of thinkers; from Socrates, Sun Tzu, and Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). My hedonism is that of a gluttonous mind that gets aroused from pouring over information, whether in text form or in the various, quality video and audio productions from thinkers like Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, or entertainment podcasts such as Cracked. And every single day there are new productions.
It may not seem expensive what I do on the internet, but with the data prices in South Africa, it can be quite costly. With a number of mobile telecom operators, none really offers a good deal for an information glutton such as myself who consumes large amounts of high quality data like videos, podcasts, and essays. Also, let me not kid myself or the dear reader here, I also spend a lot of time watching pure entertainment stuff on YouTube, such as sketches by British duo Mitchel & Webb or American duo, Key & Peele. There are also the streaming channels, whether it’s the ones I’m paying for such as Amazon Video and Netflix or torrent sites. Content is my instant gratification. It is largely intangible, but I believe it falls under the category of “things” I need to stop paying for, and instead go for experiences, many of which I read about, listen to, and watch during my world wide web gallivanting.
In the more tangible area of things that I consume for instant gratification, the two that are at the top would be basic junk food and snacks, as well as alcohol. These are not merely unhealthy for my pocket, as the massive waste of money that they are, but have a significant impact on my health. I know it can be an arduous task to set out to cook in the evening, mainly to try to cook a meal that is varied and healthy concerning nutrition, but the extent I have taken my need for instant gratification on junk food is beyond reason. The funny thing is that I trick my brain all the time regarding the amounts I can sometimes pay for individual meals, with the 30 rand for a streetwise two, about 40 rand for Burger Kings value meals, etc. However, accumulated over days, weeks, and months, the amount of money that I can spend on this ludicrous. I use an app called 22Seven, and I have just calculated that from January 2018 till now I have spent around 36,347 rand on eating out, takeaways, and junk food. I could have spent about half or even less than that had I just done proper groceries and cooked at home.
I feel I need to do better this year in terms of how I spend my money. I do not believe spending money requires one to be miserable and live like a monk. I can find value in things that put me on a path of betterment, whether in terms of my mental and physical health, or in terms of my financial wellbeing or overall self-development. This is why I need to stop going for the easy route of instant gratification, of the tangible or intangible things.
One way I would like to do this is to spend my time, effort, and money on experiences that will enhance my life beyond the instant gratification. These experiences will obviously vary, some of them could even include simply improving the relationships I have with friends and family. I think a secure social network is one area where a person can find positive experiences. Of course, this network must be carefully curated, as some of the worst forms of habits can be formed around other people. This is not a New Year's resolution, as it has been a mission I have envisioned for myself for some time now, a couple of years. I think just putting it up here, for all and sundry to see, may perhaps this time provide the motivation needed to spur me into action.