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Taken for Granted July 23, 2014

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
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Taken for Granted.  It’s defined as “To give little attention to or to underestimate the value of, to fail to appreciate. Usually the epiphany of having taking something for granted comes after its already gone.” (Urban Dictionary)

The act of taking something for granted could also be applied to people.  Being taken for granted is a painful experience.  It happens when we fail to give recognition, support, or reciprocation to people who have been nice to us… who have given us full recognition, support, time and service.

I noticed that the term “taken for granted” is a phrase that became vogue in the new millenium.  I don’t recall encountering this phrase when I was growing up, back in the 80’s and 90’s.  My theory is that the commonality of this phrase was influenced by the growing acceptance of technology and the internet during the early 2000’s until the present.  You see, nowadays, everything has become so instant and available with the mere click of our fingertips.  Do you need information?  Google it.  Do you need to call someone halfway around the world?  Skype or Viber that person.  Want to find out Imagine Dragon’s latest video?  Check it out on YouTube.  Want to add that track to your iPod?  Download it from iTunes.

Everything has become so instant.  Even friends have become instant.  With the advent of Facebook, anytime you needed to know anything your friend was doing, all you need to do is check out the Newsstream.  You know where they are via FourSquare and check-ins.  You know what their up to via Instagram.  You know what they’re thinking via Twitter.

With the opening of malls in the nearby vicinity, it has also become so much easier to acquire the things we need.  Food, clothes, tools… all the necessities for life.

So can you see why someone or something is so easy to take for granted?  Wish fulfillment has become instantaneous.  I wonder if technology has led us to a false sense of intimacy and connection.  Knowing that information, art, music, knowledge and people… that most EVERYTHING have become so easy to access, has this led us to think these would be around forever?

It didn’t used to be like this.

Back when I was younger, there was always a sense of anticipation when you wanted something.  You hungrily scoured bargain bins for magazines that informed you of what was popular and trending in the Western world.  If you wanted to acquire something, it took a long wait spanning months and years before the item arrived in the stores of Cebu.  Clothes, music albums, books, TV shows, toys… you bid your time waiting for these precious treasures to arrive on our shores.

There was a time when eating a McDonald’s or Jollibee burger was something that could occur once in a few months, if you were lucky, brought in by a relative who went to Manila and bought the pasalubong.  There was a time when friends shared more of their things with each other because this was the only way we can acquire books, music, toys and other items which were not readily available in stores.

And do you remember mix-tapes?  Remember when you heard a song on the radio playing the Top 40 mix, and you just had to copy it with a blank cassette tape because the album wasn’t sold in the local White Gold yet?  Remember going back every day to the record store just to see if the latest album from Guns n’ Roses has finally arrived?  And because you didn’t have money to buy it yet, you just contented yourself with looking at the back of the album to see the song titles and their tracks?

And what about friends?

If you wanted to see someone, you had to ask your parent’s permission if you could visit their house.  You had to wait for when your parents were available to drive you over to your friend’s house if they lived far away.  When you and your friend finally saw each other, you’d spend half the day just talking and catching up because God knows when the next time you see them will be.

There were no cellphones back then, so when you and your buddies wanted to watch a movie together or hang out at Orange Brutus, you all had to agree to a specific time and show up on the dot.  If your friends were 15 to 30 minutes late, you left them because waiting for these friends was not an option if you wanted to catch your show.  There was no cellphone for you to find out if they were still coming over or if they were late.  So people were more considerate of each other’s time because they knew what it was like to be kept waiting.

Limited and primitive as we were, we took care of our things better back in the day.  We showed more affection, care and consideration for our possessions and our friends.  We gave our time and attention.  We did it because we knew that they couldn’t be easily replaced.  That to find a replacement, we had to wait for so long and search so far and wide.

And now?  We live in a consumer society.  We dispense with possessions, friendships and time so casually, because it’s so easy to take them for granted.  Replacements are so easy to come by.  When we spend time with our friends, every fifteen minutes, we compulsorily go to our phones and check for updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  When we go somewhere, we take our sweet time doing it because we know it’s just an easy matter of catching up with our friends by asking them “Wer u na?”

And that is why the term “being taken for granted” has taken on a whole new level of meaning that it didn’t have back when I was younger.  There’s now a sentiment of pain and regret attached to the phrase.

Because we do take things for granted.  We fail to appreciate, the luxuries we have, the attention and time that our friends and family give..

…until they are gone.

Don’t let the Age of Instant Gratification fool you.  Take care of your possessions.  Be good to your friends.  Show up.  Be involved.  Be present.

If there’s one thing impressed on me by being a child of the 80’s and 90’s, it’s that song from Joni Mitchell.  The one that says:

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?  They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”

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