Internet, your immediacy is making many experiences worse
I discovered the saga Harry Potter in 2003. I devoured his first four books in a short time, and from there I began a ritual every time a new installment was to be published, something that happened three times, always on Saturday, between 2004 and 2007. I went to the store where I bought them, a large store that opened at eight, the time I arrived there. The book didn’t sell until ten o’clock, but I didn’t care. The first time I went to “queue” and there, of course, there was no queue, so I spent two hours wandering around the store, thumbing through magazines and leafing through other books until H.
My house was five minutes away, so I could have just gone to wait there, but I liked to feel that this active waiting was part of the experience. He was a teenager, so he didn’t have much else to do either. “The experience”. Two hours wandering. By 10:01 a.m. he was already walking out the door, and by noon the next day he had finished the book. Throughout the saga, reading each novel was linked in my memory to those two hours of absurd ritual. That memory keeps making me smile three decades later. Blessed innocence. Then came the rise of the Internet and digital content.
Rituals and anticipation of pleasure
The example of Harry Potter is interchangeable for any other. For the release of an album by our favorite music group. Or in something that may be much closer to us, for the purchase of the video game that we had been waiting for many years (Did you hear that, rockstar?). That purchase and its enjoyment were accompanied by waiting, going to the store, seeing the product for the first time, going out with it under one arm, looking at it on the subway on the way home and giving it several laps analyzing its details. Remove the seal, give the play.
Not all waiting is hateful
The final wait before a relatively momentous moment is an experience in itself. The artists know this and are three-quarters of an hour late on stage to let their audience warm up before the concert starts. The Internet, which only understands immediacy, has taken away these expectations.
The rituals that made up the social plan of going to the movies, renting a movie at the video store, queuing for tickets, or any other plan that included that sustained period. Internet is already. Now. Choose the movie that Netflix algorithm puts you on the cover. Three seconds and it starts. ¿Foals’ latest album? A tap and you have it without interrupting anything in your day to day. Double-edged weapon.
It is not that all the waits should be recovered, and those who have been waiting for centuries Winds of Winter They must be cursing RR Martin with good reason, but I do miss certain rituals. My group of friends is one of those who buy several tenths of the Gordo in common … and always in the same lottery administration, “who is lucky and always gives prizes.” Mathematical logic on the sidelines, I’ve spent years trying to convince you that you can buy (almost) any number online, comfortably, without queuing for an hour and a half outdoors in the middle of December. They have never cared, and recently, neither have I: it is also not a bad thing to spend that time once a year, laugh at ourselves and make a social plan that is equivalent to watching the same chapters of a sitcom and again. A time to park your brain at the door and enjoy the moment. You wait for them. You wait for them “for something.”
In this digital age, one of the strongholds of this active waiting has a lot to do with technology: the usual queues to buy the new iPhone. Paradoxically, I do not see any emotion in those queues, I have never been in them and I will never be, but a considerable number of people * have different opinions and spend a few hours outside waiting for the box to arrive. Or the whole night.
The trips back home by subway contemplating the latest album of our favorite, that way of catching air until hitting play
The same before the opening of an Apple Store, like the eleven in Spain, who had their legion of fans doing the previous vigil. Cold, hungry, uncomfortable, but there they were. They go for that experience, to collect anecdotes about a collective and individual emotion. To feel part of something much more than if they were limited to receiving the product or visiting an already open store.
In a world that has grown accustomed for two decades to not having to wait for practically nothing, the experience of active waiting is a rare commodity. It is studied that those waits complement the experiences and make them more memorable. In those moments we let our emotions flow and we even activate the anticipation of pleasure, a neural mechanism coined by Robert Sapolsky that works even to make us addicted to the game. We are more predictable than monkeys.
The best of Christmas is the weeks before Christmas Eve, the best of the kisses of the fifteen years were the foreplay before the peak. The video stores that closed will never come back, but we always have to find ways to improve purchases and experiences by adding rituals. Like in the nineties. Like when Harry Potter was not a click on the Kindle.