An Era of Impatience

Issue 7, Volume 113

By Joanne Hwang 

When conversations dwindle to silence at a restaurant, most people gravitate toward their phones as a source of entertainment. In the 21st century, the widespread use of technology and emphasis on speed are causing students to fall into the trap of instant gratification. While the value of patience was once stressed by parents and schools, students are becoming increasingly impatient, and it’s affecting their lives.

Impatient students put great emphasis on speed and efficiency and easily become frustrated when what they want is not quickly achieved. These qualities can lead to impulsive behaviors and negative ramifications, such as consistent discontent and loss of ambition and motivation. The life-altering mistakes and unhappiness caused by impatience outweigh its value as a method to achieve tasks faster.

At Stuyvesant, students are no strangers to fast work. Due to constant assessments and assignments, many students rely on technology and speed to achieve their goals. We can access nearly unlimited resources and knowledge with a few clicks on our phones or computers, and we scroll through YouTube videos, TikToks, and Instagram Reels to satisfy ourselves and escape boredom. To a great degree, technology benefits the school and its students, but technology also contributes to a student’s impatience. Technology is used to constantly stimulate and instantly reward students, resulting in their contentment with brief and meaningless pleasures. Fueled by technology, the impatience of students has become so extreme that they can hardly wait a few seconds. Studies found that after 10 seconds of waiting for content, 50 percent of people abandon it for something else. This reliance on instant pleasures and fast technology affects more than just how long a student is willing to wait.

Impatience reduces persistence, along with the quality, time, and effort put into a student’s work. Impatience is measured through social discount rates, which are used to determine a person’s patience by showing whether or not they are more inclined to take money in the present rather than in the future. Impatient students, who have higher discount rates, are less persistent and ambitious. These students focus on quick gratification in the present rather than benefits in the future. Therefore, impatient Stuyvesant students miss out on the learning process and experiences that could further benefit their education.

Behaviors caused by impatience decrease the quality of a Stuyvesant student’s education. In a series of interviews, 70 percent of educators reported shortened attention spans among students due to media usage. Impatient students are more inclined to have poor decision-making skills, which means mistakes dictate their education instead of personal choice. As a result, these students are 50 percent more inclined to drop out of school, despite wanting to graduate. Impatient students are less educated, which will eventually lead to fewer occupational opportunities than their patient counterparts.

How impatience affects a student’s education is not the only significant issue that needs to be addressed. Stuyvesant students’ decreased capacity for patience hinders their ability to discover meaningful experiences, and the school’s never-ending assignments don’t improve the situation either. Students chase entertainment after entertainment in search of happiness, only to learn that the satisfaction is short-lived. Students rush through their days trying to find happiness, utilizing speed in an attempt to reach their goals. Whether they are trying to complete tasks or satisfy their need for instant gratification through technology, meaningful moments are missed. Stuyvesant students overlook the brief, beautiful moments in life because the emphasis on speed and technology produces impatient students. This impatience creates an inability to focus on meaningful experiences that don’t result in instant satisfaction, and therefore, students miss those special moments.

In order to achieve educational success and strive toward happiness, Stuyvesant students need to relearn patience. Similar to every other skill, patience takes time and practice. In such a fast society and school environment, Stuyvesant students may feel rushed and overwhelmed. The most useful way to practice patience is to slow down. A study on the benefits of patience found that across 400 students, those who were more patient were also more hopeful and satisfied with their lives. Tools like mindfulness and meditation can allow students to slow down and remain present. Mindfulness was found to improve the focus of 83 percent and the engagement of 79 percent of students. Stuyvesant students can use opportunities such as train rides and free periods to take deep breaths and observe, allowing them to fit mindfulness into their daily schedules. Stuyvesant can implement mindfulness as part of the curriculum every now and then to help students become more patient in an impatient and fast environment.

The environment at Stuyvesant is impatient, as students are constantly jumping from one assignment to another. In a school powered by technology and speed, and as students dependent on immediate gratification, Stuyvesant students would greatly benefit from learning patience in order to see themselves succeed at school and later in adulthood. Preventing negative ramifications of impatience may not be a priority for Stuyvesant students, but we need to recognize that impatience will inevitably play a negative role in our lives. Practicing patience now can eventually lead to a better school experience and an overall improvement in emotional wellbeing.