Friday, April 2, 2021

The Marshmallow Test

I’m sure you’ve hear of the famous Marshmallow Test. Kids are seated at a table with marshmallows on a plate. They can eat one marshmallow immediately or wait fifteen minutes, in which case they get two. Go!!

The scientists then tracked these kids’ development later in life and came to the conclusion that those who delayed gratification were more successful. Like all such pseudo-scientific tests, there are so many questionable variables. What exactly does it mean to be successful? Did they begin with a cross-section of kids from different classes and ethnicities? What happened to the kids who said, “A marshmallow is a fake food shot through with sugar and artificial ingredients. Can I have an apple?”

Nevertheless, the punch line (probably pre-determined) is clear: delayed gratification is a good skill-set. It requires patience, restraint, faith that the future reward will indeed come and be worth the wait. I’d say any musician who commits to practicing instead of playing outside with the other kids (or any athlete/ dancer in training) is a model of such discipline and yes, they are different human beings from those who go from sensation to sensation, gratifying (or seeking to gratify) each and every immediate desire. It is a mark of maturity that one can look ahead and see that such restraint is necessary and will reap a worthy future result. 

Apparently, a vast number of Americans are immature and firmly in the one-marshmallow camp. Like the hockey team that recently opened their seats to full capacity and the hoards of Spring-breakers who invaded Florida. Yes, it’s one year since the pandemic began and aren’t we all anxious to watch grown men whack a little puck and each other with sticks, to get to dance on top of cars half-naked and fully-drunk and have sex with random strangers? We want our fun and we want it now!!!

But hey, folks, we are doing well with the numbers getting vaccinated and slowly approaching the herd immunity that will change everything. Can’t you hold on just a little bit longer? Because if the numbers start rising again— and whether you believe in science or not, science believes in science and it is clear they will— we’ll have to shelter for much longer. Just leave the damn marshmallow alone and yes, you can have two drunk sex partners after screaming to “Kill ‘em!” at the hockey game! It’s not like I’m asking you to eat a damn apple!

Ain’t it great to be an American? 

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