Temporal Myopia

Myopia, in scientific terms, is a condition of the eye where objects are seen more clearly when they are closer rather than distant objects. It is also referred to as nearsightedness. Whereas, in literary and social contexts, myopia is portrayed as a lack of foresight. Temporal myopia in this context means a short-sighted view of time. It talks about the natural tendency to put more focus on "Now" without giving enough thought for the “Later”. This idea is often brought up in debate of decision making, where people might choose to put short-term benefits ahead of long-term effects or consequences. We are all affected by the phenomena known as temporal myopia, the natural desire to prioritize the present, than the future. One can see this short-sightedness in many facets of behavior, decision-making and social trends. Humans normally give in to the lure of instant gratification. Especially in today's fast-paced environment, they fail to consider the long-term effects. This drive for immediate gratification can cause us to lose sight of the consequences we have in the long run, starting from overspending to engaging in harmful behavior.

There are several behavioral and psychological causes of temporal myopia. The human propensity to value instant gratification over delayed or future advantages is one of the main causes. The brain's reward system, which is programmed to seek out quick rewards, is frequently tied to this tendency. Many individuals prioritize their short-term inclinations and frequent impulsive purchases over their long-term financial goals such as retirement savings, bills and savings for needs. This biasness leads to an unstable financial future as it prioritizes instant rewards over well-thought financial planning for the future. Similarly, temporal myopia is often reflected in lifestyle and health choices. People often choose to forego long-term effects for one's being, in favor of instant enjoyment by eating unhealthy foods, or living sedentary lifestyles. This narrow viewpoint makes long-term health problems more prominent by undermining the significance of health for momentary enjoyment. 

Another problem is procrastination, which is a behavioral expression of temporal myopia. While delaying significant chores or obligations for the sake of instant comfort could bring solace in the short term, it may have unfavorable long-term effects. This procrastinating habit highlights the person's difficulty striking a balance between short-term comfort and long-term goals. When it comes to professional development, temporal myopia is demonstrated by people who prioritize their current job pleasure over long-term career growth. This  narrow-minded strategy could impede someone's long-term success and happiness since it keeps the emphasis on the current work life rather than future improvements in one’s professional life. Additionally, temporal myopia can have an impact on relationships, both personal and professional. It is indicative of a narrow mindset to pursue short-term relationships without taking long-term compatibility into account or making the effort to create enduring bonds. This strategy could make it difficult to build deep and long-lasting relationships since it prioritizes short-term satisfaction above long-term planning. 

Temporal myopia can also influence educational decisions. Myopic educational approaches are demonstrated by choosing educational pathways based only on short-term interests or convenience, without taking long-term employment possibilities or personal fulfillment into account. Future prospects and growth might possibly be impacted by this myopic view, if short-term convenience continues to take importance over long-term objectives. Examining environmental activities also offers another perspective on temporal myopia. A person's shortsightedness is demonstrated when they disregard green habits in their daily lives, such as using excessive amounts of single-use plastics, without taking the long-term effects on the environment into account. This practice shows the gap between short-term convenience and long-term sustainability by gradually degrading the environment. Finally, when it comes to addictions and drug misuses, it demonstrates how some people resort to these actions in order to deal with stress or emotions of that moment, often ignoring the long-term effects on their physical and mental health, this shortsighted behavior highlights the difficulty people have in maintaining a balance between the short-term and the long-term benefits. Future prospects and growth may be impacted, if short-term convenience continues to take lead over long-term objectives.

In the collection of human societies, the challenge of temporal myopia—our collective tendency to prioritize short-term gratifications over long-term consequences—presents a complex puzzle. A composite strategy that includes institutional, educational, and cultural interventions is needed to address this issue. The remedies may sound drastic, but if they are put into practice, our societies will gradually begin to think more for the future. The crux of the issue is that a cultural revolution is required, one that reinterprets social norms to reward and celebrate long-term planning. Storytelling, media campaigns, and public discourse that weave narratives around the significance of taking future effects into account in our collective decision-making can serve as catalysts for this transition. We create the conditions for a society that appreciates the long-term effects of its activities by cultivating a cultural awareness for future planning. Although these ideas may seem overly ambitious in terms of their feasibility, their application presents a potential path toward the fight against temporal myopia in human civilizations. Social movements, educational changes, and community involvement can be combined to help societies negotiate the challenges of making decisions while placing a fresh focus on the effects that decisions will have down the road. 

In conclusion, temporal myopia has a significant impact on a wide range of human decision-making processes, including relationship building, job growth, financial planning, health decisions, education, environmental practices, and even personal well-being. Acknowledging and managing these inclinations might enable people to make a better judgment for their short-term goals and its future effects. The difficulty is in cultivating an attitude that values the sustainable and meaningful future that careful decision-making can create in addition to the present. By doing this, we create the groundwork for a societal consciousness that values and strives for a resilient and sustainable future.

The Degree of Thought Column is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. The column explored contemporary social, cultural, political, and educational issues and challenges around us. However, the views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC-accredited, UCG-recognized Commerce and Arts college. Currently, the Degree of Thought Column is managed by the department of Mass Communication, and the editorial team are Dr Jenny Lalmuanpuii, KC Gabriela and Rinsit Sareo. For feedback or comments, please email:dot@tetsocollege.org.