Veruca Salt has been on my mind lately. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps a reminder of her unsweetened attitude would. In the fictional world of Willy Wonka, this girl was the one who just would not wait for chocolate, or anything else for that matter. She was a child who had been gifted everything her heart desired, her elaborate demands, always met. Veruca always got what she wanted, and made it irritatingly clear that she not only “want[ed]” it all, but wanted it “now.”
Veruca was, for lack of a better descriptor, a spoiled brat. Her character is the embodiment of what all kids should not be. And she exists to teach children the value of patience, of working for what you want, of showing appreciation and respect, of caring less about life’s material things. But it has been over half a century since Roald Dahl gave us Veruca, and sadly, her stereotype still precedes us. Sadly, according to many, our generation hasn’t learned.
Yes, this character is not representative of kids, just an illustration of some of their worst qualities taking center stage. But lately, I’ve become fearful that we all have a bit of Veruca in us. And with the world at our fingertips, and our expectations for instantaneous results and gratification growing every day, I fear that reflections of this girl’s attitude are seeping to the surface.
Our generation has been labeled as generation instant-gratification. When first hearing of this stigma, of course, I wanted to defend what I considered an overgeneralization. I, like so many others can be patient, consider myself to be respectful and hard-working. I believe I have a grasp on what’s really important in life, and can determine what is trivial noise. Yet the more my mind festered on this this concept, the more I caught myself absorbed in these trivial “noises.” I was beginning to see the truth rear its ugly head in all aspects of our modern lives. Sure, we don’t all throw tantrums when we aren’t promptly offered the solution(s) to our wants and needs. But when it comes to not seeing results, when it comes to having to wait, to putting in maximum effort with no shortcuts, we certainly are not happy about it. And we certainly aren’t used to it either.
We complain when our mindless television dramedies are interrupted by 60 seconds of sponsored content. We moan over the dreaded “wheel of doom” that appears on our computer screens. Even if the waiting takes less than 30 seconds, we’ll allow ourselves to roll our eyes, to fall into frustration. We’d be lost without our instant messaging our instant microwavable popcorn, our next day shipping. We seek gratification in the form of little virtual hearts to be placed on our photos, and are able to avoid face to face confrontations by sending emojis instead of real people emotions.
I see the negative effects of instant gratification everywhere. In this world of accessible information, so much of it is lost on us as we seek out the end product, the final solution. But in doing that, we’re dismissing the in-betweens of life, and that’s not okay.
I don’t have to tell you this. I’d like to think we all have those moments when we stop, slow ourselves down and realize just how impatient we can be, just how dependent on technology we are, and how often those “dependencies” are for trivial reasons.
We want to skip to the good stuff. The end, the win, the feedback, the accomplishment. We look to the when it got done more fondly than thehow.
We crave answers, we crave feedback, we praise timeliness. And yes, these can all be good things to crave. Our generation begs for socialchange. Our need for feedback, our expectation of timeliness can perhaps lunge us forward into a world of improvement, a world of action, a world of possibilities.
When our elders, our mentors our potential employers meet us, let’s make sure they aren’t reminded of Veruca Salt. They may view technology as the enemy and us as its fallen prey, but we can’t go back and change the way we were raised. We can’t change what we have already been handed, the fact that we have been brought into a technological world. But we canchange the way we deal with this fact, the way we respond to it, the way we interact with things versus people, challenges versus shortcuts.
“They” may think we expect too much, and maybe that’s true. But our expectations don’t have to be shallow ones. We can show that we expect answers to our questions, we expect change, but we also expect to work hard, we expect to do good without notice, to achieve without always being applauded. And when we are, applauded, we can be all the more appreciative of our achievements and those who helped us get there.
I believe it is important to realize that this stigma is out there. In being aware, we can be more in-tune with our actions and can prove those who stereotype us wrong. And we should work towards this not for theproof, but for our own sake too. Sure, I may like chocolate, I may have some lofty desires and ambitions, but I am no Veruca. Thank goodness.
Katelyn Merrigan, a senior, studies English, marketing, and graphic design. She is the Business and Online editor of Le Provocateur.