When my friends asked me about my time at ITP I noticed that one of my first reactions was to say that I feel time runs faster than I ever experienced it before, and that’s on top of my continuous feeling that time is moving really (really(!)) fast. I want to slow it down or at least feel as if I have more of it.
Why is it important to you? What inspired you to take interest?
Time is the most often used noun in the English language and I wonder about it and how it’s perception changes throughout life (while ‘wasting time’ on the train I made a list off the top of my head of phrases with time – timeline, timeframe, timeless, timepiece, time machine, time travel, time lapse, time capsule, facetime, spending time, worthy of your time, time is money, earning time, waiting time, gaining time, saving time, free time, timing, it’s about time, time square and you got the point..).
How come time moves slower in space? and how come metronomes that start unsynchronized become in synched over time when they are near each other (watch if you haven’t seen it yet!)? There are so many strange things that relate to time…
I’ve always felt that time was accelerating and the theory I had in mind to explain this phenomena to myself was that the older I get, every year for instance is becoming a smaller fracture from the accumulated time I had in life. That theory makes sense, though I know that my grandparents for instance in their 90’s feel that time is slowing down. So I still need to find more explanations.
I know that we all have limited amount of time in our current state of being (we kinda hold a glass hour and have no clue how much sand is left at the top), but it is still very difficult for me to appreciate my time as I feel I should. When I was 15 my father died suddenly and that was when I started to think seriously about time. Since then I never wanted to ‘waste time’ and if i did, I felt very guilty. The way I saw it there was no time in life for bullshit, no time for unwanted feelings, unwanted interactions and I wanted to be efficient with it. For a while I believed that multitasking is the best thing, and that the more experiences I could push to lengthen my days the better. In my undergrads I chose to study Psychology and Cinema Studies because I wanted to find a way to experience a lot of ‘life’ relatively fast through watching movies and listening to peoples stories. The way I used to handle time ‘to perceive more of it’ is similar to what the Neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman suggests in How to Slow Down Your Perception of Time. He explains that our perception of time changes based on how many new memories we created, in order to experience time more fully, we should seek novelty. This was also mentioned in Robert Krulwich Applications talk today, If you want to experience more time you need to explore the new. For me however, when I experience many new things, it feels like the duration of time is longer, but it also runs much faster, so I can’t agree with Eagleman’s theory of ‘slowing down the perception of time’. Now I believe that it is better to focus on one experience at a time and indulge in whatever you do than trying to grasp it all at once.
What other work or research is being done to solve it?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who discovered that people find genuine satisfaction or ‘happiness’ during a state of consciousness he called Flow (and wrote the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience). One key aspect of flow is that, while in flow, nearly all of the brain’s available inputs are devoted to one activity. This is why the perception of time changes, discomfort goes unnoticed, and stray negative thoughts don’t enter the mind.
Other takes on time related concepts are introduced in the book The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, written by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulrich Obrist:
Time Shrink (n.) Describes the way in which your perceived life shrinks when it becomes over-efficient from multi-tasking, and not enough down-gaps are left between specific experiences.
and I get that..
Gap-induced time stretching (n.) – Time perception is very much about how you sequence your activities, how many activities you layer over the top of others, and the types of gaps, if any, you leave in between activities. Leaving small gaps of inactive downtime between successive tasks has the long-term effect of making one’s life feel ‘longer’.
and my favorite one to ponder about is Time snack (v.) – [The] often annoying moments of pseudo-leisure created by computers when they stop to save a file or to search for software updates or merely to mess with your mind.
What are some ideas for answering/solving the problem?
Lately I’ve been noticing more and more people watching videos on youtube and using the option of playing the video faster than the original source. This is actually a pretty normal thing nowadays
Someone on our ITP student list even sent a recommendation to watch Shiffman videos’ doing exactly that and I started thinking about how we are adapting to the over saturated environment we created with technology, and that we need everything faster and more immediate than ever before.
Growing up before the internet whenever I wanted to learn something new I had to ask someone and hope they’ll have an answer or search in a book, which meant that I had to find the book to learn from. Everything took more time. What does the future hold for us in terms of time? Will my children have even less patience when they will watch videos (assuming they will watch videos…), or will they just get some kind of sensory/memory injection whenever they’ll want to learn something new? How different will be their perception of time?
Another piece from The Age of Earthquakes :“Time is really moving faster. I experience as little time as anyone else does these days. By rewiring our brains on the internet we tempered with the old fashion organic perception of time. we’ve rejigged our bodies perception of time and it’s not just because you’re older and each each year is a smaller percentage of your life. It’s simply moving more quickly” .
And so, what does our excessive use of technology do to our perception of time? This article was published just days ago and is trying to give some answers…
One of the ways I try to affect the way I experience time is by meditating every morning. This practice allows me to see/hear my thought and know more about where my mind is set, past-present-future wise. I feel that it helps me to be more present, and hence more focused on whatever I do. Also I try to balance and experience a variety of different and new activities during my days, but time still seems to run out fast.
Help me find ways to slow down the perception of time. I would love to know your thoughts/ideas on time, and how we can make/get/experience more of it.