Candy Chang mural

How much time do you need?

Figure it out yourself.

We all have felt that sometimes we have too much or too little time. That something that took two minutes in reality felt like an eternity in our minds. I’ve experienced a lot of it during Freshman year when I joined the debate team. But the other side of this coin is that several hours of procrastination usually feel like a second. This is the my life when writing my senior thesis (due this may). Maybe all this different sensations we have towards time is because of the essentiality of it changes with our goals. If we are not running against time to finish or accomplish something you will feel like you have more of it, simple as that. So why movies and books that teach you how to enjoy, and better use your time are a cliche but always in demand? Why do we need so many of these movies? Why do they keep being made and sold out? Why do we need to be lectured about the way we use our own time instead of being influenced to acquire our own experiences?

The Bucket List - Warner Bros, 2017

To talk about time, it’s necessary to understand how it works. First of all, time is not a universal measurement. It is relative, which means different clocks tick differently if they are moving in relation to one another. Only the speed of light is absolute: it is the same for all observers, regardless of their motion relative to the source. For that to be true, the rate at which time passes actually slows down the faster you are. The amount of time elapsed between “ticks” of the same clock is mutable. In Einstein’s special theory of relativity, time, space and motion are all viewed as components of a four-dimension reality, known as the space-time continuum.

Under this framework, we can talk about the concept of time dilation. This is a phenomenon in which we’re able to observe a difference of elapsed time between two observers. Take the famous twin “paradox” example. This thought experiment shows that if someone travels very fast away from the Earth and then comes back, some other person who stayed on the planet (say, the traveler’s twin brother/sister) will have aged more than the traveler by the end of the journey. The clocks of the two twins will mark different times, even though they were synchronized at the beginning of the experiment — and both will be correct in their measurements. This shows how tricky the perception of time really is to human nature.

Technology is also affecting our perception of time. Different than the laws of physics that say that the rate of time is supposed to slow down when something is moving, as explained above, Dr. Aoife McLoughlin from James Cook University found out that our perception of time is actually speeding up, thanks to the over-abundance of technology. The normative use of technology makes human brains process information more efficiently, making us think that time is passing quicker than it actually is. “I’ve found some indication that interacting with technology and techno-centric societies has increased some type of pacemaker within us,” “While it might help us to work faster, it also makes us feel more pressured by time.”. Even though we have more time than we think we have, we are pressured to better use every second we have. The movies and books mentioned before are our guides to fulfill this urge.

The speed at which time passes is something that people have been concerned about for centuries. The tribal traditions, family threes…are all different ways to measure time. Today, our lives are carried by Time-stress, but was it always like this? Take this analogy as an example, when you have a small piece of chocolate you will enjoy every little taste that goes into your palate papillae, it will feel amazing. But if you have a whole bar, you will just stuff your face with it and not really appreciate it. I am sure you did this at least once. The same goes for time. When you are a little kid and haven’t lived a lot of time things fell amazing. Days last decades, and every single moment is remarkable. Most childhood memories come with a feeling or a smell to it, and it’s because we at that time were paying attention to the details. Now as adults, time vanishes.

Photo by MI PHAM

Complaining about not having enough time has become a hobby. Not only because we are in a constant state of running against time to accomplish things. Being that a job, a career, school, but also because we had enough time to stop appreciating time as the seconds go. We allow details and moments to pass by and not record it in our memory as we did when we were kids. Time isn’t actually speeding up, only our brains are. So detox, get away from technology for a while. Let your brain go back to normal speed. Allow the child in you teach you once again how to experience things in a better way, At last, save the time you spend watching movies and reading books with the same old narrative, and learn how to better use your time through your own experiences.



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