Instant gratification is the opposite to ‘delayed gratification’ – remember those days when your parents told you ‘You only get Y if you do X first’? And it worked most of the time since we relied on them (financially, psychologically) to get hold of Y. That treat was often an object or event of desire, mostly innocent things such as chocolate, sweets, some outdoor activity, playing with toys or meeting up with friends. But now as adults in 2019, who is there to regulate our wishes and desires? It seems like we are constantly overloaded with opportunities, possibilities and chances ‘not to miss out’. We are being offered anything we want at any time we want. With the internet, anything is possible now. How many of us live within five minutes walk of a shop for buying chocolate, sweets and alcohol? I remember as a child, a trip to the supermarket meant trying to persuade my mother to buy sweets. There was always at least one whole shelf of sweets with bright rainbow and sugary colours to choose from. But as an adult, there is less constraint and less imposed inhibitions. We eat crisps and chocolates as fuel for studying and working – and when we’re not, it is a justification to eat when we are sad or need something to ‘do’ while watching films. Would this behaviour change if we knew about the ethics of production and consumption?
Euromonitor published ‘The World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers’ – Swiss people eat 9 kg of chocolate in a year, followed by Germany with almost 8 kg and Ireland with 7 kg. That is almost around 40-50 chocolate bars a year. If I may add sugar to our list, it is the United States, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland which top the list. I could continue with coffee, tea and palm oil and slowly a pattern emerges. All these crops grow in tropical climates, in countries where agricultural, fertile land is used to meet the demands of sugar-and-chocolate-craving countries than the needs of their own. The marketing of exquisiteness of the well-known Swiss and Belgian chocolates erases the exploited labour of children and underpaid workers.
It continues to clothing, online shopping, technological gadgets and travelling, education. It does not even matter if you earn a pittance, since sugar-loaded food is available at all price ranges, starting from as low as 40 cents so anyone can afford to binge on it once a while. Flights are so ridiculously cheap that we can fly out just for a weekend and not care about the environmental impacts. And if you are still unsatisfied, just browse on the internet because there are endless amounts of distractions, from games to news to shopping and anything to occupy your senses.
There are many articles and advice circulating online on how to work on our needs of instant gratification. But perhaps we can also think of the ethical and environmental impacts of that lifestyle, and instead of looking into it online, we can start by discussing this phenomenon with other human beings.
Worlds biggest chocolate consumers: https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/07/22/the-worlds-biggest-chocolate-consumers-infographic/
Where people around the world eat the most sugar and fat: