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Sunday, May 19, 2024

EDITORIAL: The Lost Art of Patience in a Digital World


There’s something ⁢magical about⁢ the feel of a letter⁢ in​ your hands,⁣ the weight of the paper bearing‍ the⁢ weight​ of its words, the ​ink slightly raised to⁣ the touch. Looking at my cozy desk in my home in Schenectady, NY, the stack of untouched mail sits like some antiquated artifact next to my streamlined laptop. Sending letters, or even⁤ reading them, has become a thing of the past — ⁢gone⁢ the ⁢way of dimes in phone​ booths and mystery novels ⁤on rainy⁣ afternoons.

I’m‌ not the kind of man that enjoys​ change for⁢ change’s sake.⁤ Give me a good chicken⁢ soup, a sturdy park bench,⁣ and a copy‌ of‌ the Schenectady⁤ Gazette,​ and I’m as happy as a clam. But it seems any tolerance for such old-fashioned comforts ‍is dwindling ⁣in our rapid-fire, digital world.

Technology has transformed our existence into an‌ exhilarating⁤ and, ⁣excuse my‌ grimacing, exasperating race ‌into hyper-speed everything.⁣ Want to order pizza⁢ while browsing vacation spots halfway across the globe, only to⁤ sidetrack into a binge-watching spree ⁢of ⁢a TV show that hasn’t even broadcast its finale yet? Unfathomable to Brian McCarthy, a‍ kid who, growing up ⁣in ​the⁢ 70s, had to wait‌ a week ‍to watch the next episode of Happy Days.

Several studies support my ⁤cranky reservations.‌ Digital tech’s effects on our attention spans ‍are widely⁣ reported, ​with Microsoft’s research suggesting that a​ goldfish outlasts an average human’s ​8-second attention ​span —‍ a decrease of nearly 25%⁣ since the year 2000. This rushing mindset ⁤permeates every⁤ part of our lives, creating an‌ impatient society that can’t ⁣bear to wait more than a heartbeat for anything, let alone an email reply.

Our ​demand for instant gratification has swallowed the art of patience ‌whole. When​ I was ‍a kid, news came from the ⁢local ‌paper or the evening television broadcast. You waited for the‍ stories, you pondered over them. The anticipation of getting a letter from a pen⁢ pal used to be a joy‌ in itself. Today, communication happens in the‍ blink⁣ of an eye, sometimes even preemptively thanks to our smart devices.

A ⁤person gets lost in the city no longer. GPS⁢ and mobile apps have replaced the charm of getting directions ⁢from locals. ‍The endearing mistakes, the wrong turns⁢ are lost. We’re so busy rushing from‍ point A to ⁢point ‌B, we’re missing the journey.

I ‌remember a mate of mine, a fellow ​barmate at⁢ Maloney’s, an ⁢Irish pub⁣ that used ‍to be‌ around the corner on Mohawk Avenue. Jimmy was his ‌name. He ordered a whiskey glass ⁤etched with the New York Giants logo for his ​brother from the other side of the country. Weeks turned‍ into​ months ‍as⁢ the⁢ package crossed states, got⁤ shuffled⁤ through‍ post ‍offices, ‌and finally reached its destination.

Upon receiving it, his brother ‍called,⁢ their chat warming the stingy night, making‌ the wait worthwhile, the distance a bit more bearable. Now he’d send it from an online store, and the ⁢surprise would reach his brother in two days — convenient, but ‍not quite ⁢the same.

But ⁤not all hope is lost. A return ‌to patience could be lurking around, waiting for ‍us to slow down⁢ and⁣ grab ⁣hold. Remember the recent rebirth of vinyl records? Or the survival of bookstores among the ubiquitous e-books? They embody⁣ the longing for something tangible, ⁢a depth of experience that‌ challenges our impatient habits.

Slowly savoring a meal, ⁣resolving a disagreement through lengthy discussion,⁣ cherishing a well-earned triumph ‍after an uphill struggle. These‍ are the flavors ⁣of a patient life, the ones I worry we are losing ​in ⁣this rapid digital age.

I suggest we ⁣slow down once in a while, dare to miss out — ​create room⁢ for anticipation,⁢ reflection, and that delicious⁢ wait for a⁣ package. Do away with‌ digital immediacy and indulge in the sweet pleasures‌ of ​taking our time.

Change ⁣is never easy. Being a lifelong‍ resident of Schenectady, I have seen the good, bad,‍ and the ⁤ugly transformations of this city. Same goes for the ⁣digital world. ‌We gain conveniences but lose something more human in the process.

We ⁤may not⁣ be⁣ able to halt this digital bulldozer, but by embracing ⁣slowness, we might just preserve ⁣patience ⁤and wonder, ​those precious commodities from a bygone age. Pour a‌ coffee, ⁢pick out a ​letter, and give it ⁤a read. You might‌ be surprised by​ what thoughtful patience brings.

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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