When do we wait

Where and why does waiting occur? My first step to categorise some waiting scenario’s:

Digital wait

While we wait something is happening. This something is invisible. A computer transferring data, I can’t see what. Only wait. On my screen appears a visual indication, it indicates that something is working. I’m told it’s not stuck.

Spinningwheel of death – system is doing something.

Loadingsbar – system is making progress, waiting to be finished.

Track and trace – box is slightly opened a little window gives insights in the system behind the wait.

Why I am attached to this extremely detailed indication of my wait? And who decided to implement this form of waiting for entertainment? Waiting becomes an event in which we can precisely track where we are waiting for, which leads to a restless feeling when this option is not available anymore. The time of uncertainty becames a story with notes that my package arrived at 9.47AM in the distribution centrum.

Digital divide
Who needs to wait in a digital environment?
Based on geographic of connectivity and wifi access


The delay between sending and receiving is part of the communication. Communicating without waiting would not be possible. It are the spaces and commas in the sentence that make it readable. Although waiting is part of communication we seem to wait less time for a reply. Driven by digital tools waiting time within communication can be minimized to seconds.

Responding time
Blue checkmark – I can’t wait, reply on the message

Being silent – Who has the power to wait and be silent

Interrupting, not waiting, is seen as rude. Waiting as form of respect.


When does necessarity fade to luxury? At what point is waiting reduced to the level of luxury? Supply chains seem to abhor waiting. The promise to receive a package faster then the competitor becomes a trade mark for some companies. Faster is better.

Fast delivery
Next day delivery
Minute delivery


Those who have power can skip the line. ‘Waiting implies submission’. The people that wait are not able to skip the line with economic sources or powerful positions.

Exlusive waiting
Airport lobby – spending waiting time more productive or luxury
Tesla charging stations

Skip the line
Priority boarding – skipping the line in exchange for money

Commercial exploitation

Waiting can be interesting for making money. While we wait time is spend in shops. Airports as well as trainstations offer us a way to escape waiting and spend money.



To hype

The moment in which we wait can be used to grow our imagination of the event that will occur after our wait. Waiting in this case is almost a promotional event to create a desire of the planned event.

Apple product launch

To control

An common thread within waiting is power. Who has the control over time and can decide who waits. The one in charge can use the wait as a punishment for behaviour that is not wanted.

Letting people wait
Traffic light