A step out of time

We live in an era where people can order groceries online and have them delivered to their front doorstep. Yesterday, I watched someone become visibly upset because of having to wait an extra minute for a Starbucks order. Every time I send an instant message to my friend in Spain, I am amazed all over again by her instant response. Nealon and Giroux write in Theory Toolbox that because of these modes of instantaneous communication, things that were once “far away” are now “close,” paving a way for the concept of a “global village.” (129) It is important to note that our perception of time and space, as Nealon and Giroux emphasize, varies depending on who we are and what we have access to. Before reading the chapter on Space/Time, I had never thought of time as a way of distinguishing the accumulation of wealth or social power. With this in mind, it is extremely apparent in our Westernized world how much time is a social construct. Look at the film industry’s depiction of the elitist or CEO, never having the time of day to meet with anyone of lesser status. Consider the marketing ploy of advertisements on TV or Amazon Prime who guarantee the quickest delivery times. The most popular diet plans are usually not the healthiest ones for your body, but the ones that supposedly help you lose the most weight in the quickest amount of time. Even in college, the pressure of a four-year timeframe looms overhead as we scramble to decide on a major and finish all the necessary graduation credits. When is someone going to make it stop? Our nation has become so fast paced that it seems the very mathematical model of space-time as an interwoven continuum has become a day-to-day experienced reality. It is when I’m talking to my grandma about frustrations with an unsent IPhone message that I really understand time and space as a social phenomena. Time for her was experienced much differently then me. A letter (snail-mail, as she calls it now) was the only thing way she could write a message to someone and the “waiting” she recalls now, was an exciting part of the process. Oh how different “waiting” is now! I worry with our quickened pace and scrolling new feeds that we might forget the real sense of human interaction. I don’t like walking down school hallways to the silence of people looking at their glowing handheld devices. I don’t think it’s unrelated that one of the newer branches of psychological study is mindfulness practice. It seems that we need to take the time to live more intentionally because even though the concept of time is socially constructed, we also have the capacity to control our own time. Maybe it’s about time we step outside of our time and try to better understand each other’s time.

2 Responses to A step out of time

  1. Harrison January 27, 2016 at 2:22 am #

    Park, I feel what you’re saying about our sense of time, and the relative impatience and sense of entitlement our present condition suggests. It’s true, at least it seems true that we’re a less charming generation. We get annoyed by apparently silly things (ur imessage doesn’t go quick enough, our youtube video doesn’t buffer quick enough, our Chinese food delivery doesn’t come quick enough etc., etc.)

    But isn’t it all a bit relative? I mean things change, technologies advance, cultures adapt. It’s understandable why we might be annoyed about an unsent iphone message because iphone messages are supposed to be dependable modes of communication. We’re used to it going through, so it’s annoying when there’s a blip. We’re used to our wifi working because of the money we give to Comcast or whatever, so it’s only natural to be frustrated when their is some kind of retardation. Some guy with a in the 1800s with a malfunctioning wristwatch must have been pissed, expecting far more reliability from his time-telling mechanical bracelet than a sundial or something.

    Just seems like on the one hand, yeah, it’s annoying, we’re spoiled, vain, impatient and all of that, but at the same time we’re probably going to look back on on the coming generations with the same kind of nostalgia of our grandparents.

  2. Prof VZ February 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

    Great post / comment here–I think the point is less about generational complaints (the younger generation is always X) and more about how time has contracted so profoundly over the past 200 years, and especially in the last 10. Perhaps this relates to how much time has to do with consumption: if we are increasingly identified by the things (media or meatballs) that we consume, the pace of consumption, and our subsequent impatience, has accelerated. If one (questionable) accomplishment of previous eras was the conquest of space (land / discovery) then perhaps that accomplishment of this one will be the annihilation of time as we proceed to an assumed instantaneousness and access. Fun times!

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