The Pursuit of Instant Gratification - A Perpetual Cycle?
Remember when you had to go to a library, flip through a card catalogue, and possibly even (GASP!) consult the pages of an encyclopedia to find in-depth information about a particular subject? Did this process seem time consuming, complicated and exhausting at the time? Probably not. But today, the internet gives us practically effortless access to an abundance of information with just a few clicks, nurturing and perpetuating the declining level of patience we as a society seem to emanate. As technology and the internet have become richer, faster and more mainstream, we as consumers have developed desires and even expectations of instant gratification which transfer to other aspects of our lives.
Not that many years ago, walking was people’s main source of transportation. A trip to the store and back may have been an all day event. Family and friends communicated by writing letters (by hand, using writing utensils), and washing laundry involved, well, actually washing it.
Fast forward to today. Just waiting in rush hour traffic for twenty minutes is enough to incite feelings of impatience, frustration, even true rage! We become immediately irritated if we cannot get cell phone reception or get our hands on the over-hyped-but-under-produced “must have” holiday gadget of the year. And many of us seem pretty convinced that the world stops mid-orbit when the internet goes down, even momentarily.
That said, I am a product of the internet era, as prone as anyone to grumble (and leave) if a webpage fails to load within an acceptable couple of seconds. Having an electrical engineer father, I grew up with a computer in the house from as early as I can remember, leading me to tinker with bulletin board systems (BBS) and then the elementary stages of AOL, before the internet as we know it had spoiled us with high speed access and powerful search engines (modem dial-up noise anyone? How quickly we forget!).
The increasing demand for instant fulfillment with time is a perplexing phenomenon. Technological companies are in a never ending race to make products faster, higher capacity, more accessible and more intuitive, which only serves to propagate consumers’ already insatiable expectations.
Search engine optimization is one industry in which this pining for instant gratification becomes blatantly apparent. Other forms of internet advertisement, such as pay per click, can in fact influence almost immediate results. SEO, on the other hand, involves establishing a positive reputation and strengthening a brand, and doing it consistently better than competitors. The key here is consistency--SEO is part work and part waiting game, the latter of which being the toughest to digest for companies investing in the future of their websites.
Companies will of course continue rolling out newer, faster and better products in effort to accommodate unyielding consumer expectations, only to perpetuate and intensify those expectations. Does this cycle suggest we are stuck in an endless cat and mouse game? Maybe, but such is the beauty of free market! My suggestion to the overeager consumer is to revel in the opportunity afforded by the supply and demand balancing act, without losing appreciation for the seemingly elementary technologies that served as an avenue for advancement in the first place. After all, those products about which we so laughingly reminisce were groundbreaking in their day, and without the era of screeching modem noise and AOL on floppies, we would not have access to the web based information, products, services, social outlets and games that so kindly indulge us today.
About the Author: Pamela Westbrook is a Project Manager for a premiere search engine optimization firm based in Austin, Texas. Pamela is a graduate of the University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration with a degree in Consumer and Industrial Marketing. For more information about search marketing and PPC management, please visit http://www.arteworks.biz