Did the Internet Kill Anticipation?

Filed as News on April 9, 2008 6:47 am

When the Internet first started to become mainstream, I was at the age when nothing mattered – except girls. Everyday I’d walk down the block to my buddy’s house. We’d boot up his beast of a computer and log on to Prodigy.

Seven letters/numbers stood between Queens, NY and the rest of the world: NCJG34B. My first assigned screen name.

Once logged in, the mission was simple: Find girls of the same age, initiate e-mail contact, exchange pictures through snail mail and eventually meet. Of course, this meeting had to culminate in some sort of ‘action,’ or else it was considered a bust.

If it worked like a charm back in the early 90′s, I can only imagine the number of casual hookups the Internet is responsible for today. It seems TOO easy. But isn’t it always when you’re happily married, sitting on the sidelines.

What’s my point? Here it is: I think anticipation has left the building.

As we move towards an on-demand society, I can’t help but wonder if something is lost with all of this immediate gratification. TV gets paused, albums leak weeks in advance and I can find the value of my home and the picture of an Ex in about eight seconds. This ‘information now’ trend has been spearheaded by constantly-updated blogs.

Information overload is here, and I’m kinda thinking it’s too much. Every good geek worth his or her salt loves data. But is there a downside to having access to too much stuff? Your thoughts please…

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  1. By Ivo Quartiroli posted on April 9, 2008 at 8:40 am
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    Technology changes our psyche in subtle ways. I reflect on the intersections between technology, psychology, media on my blog on http://www.indranet.org/ if you like to have a look.

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  2. By Bam Azizi posted on April 9, 2008 at 9:21 am
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    you’re right we have lost anticipation but now we’ve got expectations. it’s a very crowded market, if you make people wait they’ll lose interest but if you meet their expectations you have a chance to make a buzz.

    that’s actually the topic of my own blog, meeting or exceeding people’s expectation is one way of becoming successful,

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  3. By Alex (FirstShowing.net) posted on April 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm
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    Whoa, what a great point – never thought of it that way. While I will agree that there is an information overload on the internet (too much too many places)< I don’t think anticipation is killed. I think it instead has shifted.

    I can’t reference your casual dating example, BUT I was going to mention tech / movies. Instead of anticipating elsewhere, it’s anticipation online – the battle of who can get it up first and how quickly you can quick refresh. As in, the idea of live blogging keynotes like Steve Jobs. I know I sit there all day refreshing like a madman because I’m anticipating the next announcement and instead of waiting 24 hours for it to trickle through print news sources, it’s on Gizmodo and Engadget without seconds of coming out of Jobs’ mouth.

    Same with movies. Trailers are released at specific times and there’s an anticipation – you’re waiting, but thankfully it’s not a big wait. Instead of catching a trailer on its debut during a commercial break on TV (give or take the Superbowl), not it’s a matter of waking up and checking your favorite movie site for that trailer and building anticipation of watching it. It’s just shifted from a delayed anticipation to immediate, to an instant thing. We no longer have to wait – it’s all immediate, but it’s still there…

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  4. By Rob O. posted on April 9, 2008 at 3:18 pm
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    There is a downside to today’s society – and it may be far more insidious than you think.

    I believe the ramifications of our “everything now” lifestyles are being felt by the youngest couple of generations. We’re rewiring the developing brains of little children to expect a constant barrage of stimulation and to anticipate that their desire for immediate gratification will be met – in spades.

    When I was a child, a roadtrip meant sitting in the big backseat of a big car for hours – sometimes days – with a couple of toys and maybe a book. Now, kids can’t tolerate a 10 minute trip to school or the grocery store without popping on their earbuds or playing a videogame. DVDs have made it all possible for kids to watch the only good 12 minutes of a movie over and over again.

    The mindset of Gens Y & Z (and whatever comes next after that) are affecting popular culture likewise. We may not be causing them, but we’re certainly contributing to societal ills like ADHD.

    People actually think that crappy movies are good because they feature lots of cool explosions and eye-popping CGI. To heck with any substance like character development or plot. No, instead, we need lots of intense action and we need it now!

    There’s not even any room left for subtlety even in food any more – you’ve got to have “flavor burst” nacho chips and energy drinks that pack the kick of 12 cups of coffee into a single large can. We can’t even wait 8 minutes to make “old fashioned” mac & cheese any more, instead relying upon microwavable mac & cheese that’s ready to shove down your kid’s gullet in less than 45 seconds. What American kid is so deprived that having to wait 8 minutes for some mac & cheese is going to be a real problem?

    Instant communication capacity of cell phones means that kids no longer have to plan where they’re going to be later in the day or figure out in advance how they might get home. No need to think for themselves – just text Mom and she’ll drop everything and come to the rescue.

    The Internet is but one piece of a serious set of problems that’re about to smack us in the face.

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