How times have changed: has technology made us lose our patience?

Posted 31/10/2019 by E.ON

“Please allow 28 days for delivery."

If you're of a certain age (perhaps over 30), this will be a familiar phrase from a bygone era. If you're under 30, this will seem utterly inconceivable. Baffling. Barbaric, even.

But until the widespread use of the internet in the late 90s – and especially the launch in the UK of a certain online retailer named after a South American river – buying anything via mail order usually involved waiting just under a month for it to be delivered.

No, really. We're not kidding. We actually had to wait 28 days for stuff.

Of course, that meant a build-up of expectation while we waited for delivery. Checking the post every day, hoping what we'd ordered would arrive soon. The refrain “was there any post for me?" was often the first thing you'd ask when arriving home from school or work at the end of the day. You wanted your mail-order item, but you had to be patient.

We used to order records, or what is now known as vinyl, from ads at the back of magazines. Just think of that. You wanted some new music, you sent off a cheque in the post and, a month later, your record arrived. It's a world away from downloading music today. There's no patience required for that: with modern broadband download times, you have a new album on your computer or smartphone almost faster than you can spell out the word 'patience'.

Dawdling dial-up

Talking of download times, who remembers dial-up? Those early days of the web, with the chirruping of the phone line and the s l o w l y l o a d i n g page seem absurd now, but back then, we were so excited by this brave new world of technology that we didn't really notice. We were patient because we had to be. Things took time because, well, they just did.

Back in the day – when we hadn't even invented the phrase 'back in the day' – there were no digital music files that took an instant to find and play. We had cassette tapes that you had to rewind and fast forward. Finding the start of a track was an inexact science. If you wanted to play a particular track, you'd have to be patient, waiting until you found the right place on the tape. Rewind, rewind, play. No, it's further back. Rewind, rewind, play. Just a bit more. Rewind, play. Almost there…

That is one of the unsung wonders of technology: it changes our behaviour and creates new normals all the time. We forget how time-consuming everything used to be, because modern technology does so many things instantaneously. Everything is immediate. Everything has to happen now. Patience? We've got no time for that…

And while there still remains a sense of doubt from consumers towards electric vehicles (EVs), there are important improvements happening right now, but addressing concerns is key. Yes, range anxiety is one of the major barriers to acceptance of EVs, making electric vehicle charging, or the availability of, a big focus. Drivers may balk at the prospect of having to charge their cars for hours before they can use them - or charge more often than the usual weekly trip to a petrol station. Even the fast chargers you find at motorway service stations can take 45 minutes. Who has 45 minutes? People want to get on with their journey. They want to get where they're going as soon as possible.

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Charging is changing

The world has moved on though. For example, we now have ultra-fast electric vehicle charging stations in the UK, which can boost the batteries of the latest EVs by adding 100 miles of range in just 10 minutes.

These 175kW chargers are already up and running at our first site, near Spaghetti Junction in Erdington, Birmingham, with two more set to be installed by the end of the year, on the M6 near Preston and on the M40 near Bicester. We expect to be operating 10 of these ultra-fast chargers in the UK by the end of next year, having already built more than 3,000 charging stations across Europe.

Ultra-fast charging is changing the game for electric vehicle use, making it much more attractive to drivers.

It's another nail in the coffin of patience, though.

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