Why does time seem to pass you by faster as you get older?
Today’s post is my personal ruminations on time and social media. I’ve tried to keep my thoughts in check and hope the post isn’t too nonsensical but I can’t promise anything. As I know what I mean I’m finding it difficult to read it back objectively without immediately understanding what I’m getting at. It’s also a very long post, but I would really love to hear your thoughts on the subject so hopefully you’ll read it all the way through.
I’ve been talking about it recently and I think our lives just aren’t as punctuated by events anymore. I know that is a part of aging. After-all, the amount of things we’ve experienced is vastly larger than those we haven’t. Meaning we don’t note them the way we once would have.
Time is often measured by firsts; your first day of school, first friendship, first fallout, first kiss, first infatuation, first love, first heartbreak, first job. All of these firsts punctuate our years and because of that, time doesn’t appear to blend together the way it does as we get older. We have a better grasp on the timeline of our lives.
But eventually we have experienced most ‘firsts’. We’ve experienced these things enough times that not only have we seen it through fresh eyes, we’ve been prepared. We’ve become experienced, and eventually we’ve encounter them so frequently that they become another mundane, predictable necessity.
Think back to the first time you bought something with money that was your own. For example, the first time you did a food shop. There was a thrill about having your own money and choosing what to spend it on. All the decision were yours to make, it was new, a new responsibility. There was excitement before, during and after purchasing.
Now it’s a chore. It’s something we rush through because we have to. Keep in mind I’m not saying that we should all be exhilarated by the prospect of a weekly food shop. I’m just pointing out that over time, what once was exciting and noteworthy, becomes dreary and unstimulating.
I think this inevitable autopilot mode that we get stuck in as we age isn’t something to be too concerned with though. It happens to the best of us at some point. I just think we need to be aware of the possibility that this can happen to us. That way we can take steps to pull ourselves out of it when it does.
People get so excited by holidays. And besides the obvious weather, absence of work and relaxation why do you think that is? Because it’s different from the everyday workings of your life, and it wakes you up. As humans, the only animals out there who have decided to live their lives according to a construct of time which we have implemented and confined ourselves to, need to pre-plan adventures that will awaken us to life and help us accentuate time more.
These adventures can be holidays, activities, continued learning. Even philosophical debates that open your mind, making you think differently than your norm. There are many different ways to awaken yourself to life, some cost money, others don’t. Sprinkle them into the day to day.
I have another example, that will hopefully help prove what I am trying to explain. I want you to think of a date; an actual day, month and year in your recent life where you remember exactly what happened. It doesn’t have to be that you remember the whole day but you remember something specific happen on that specific date…. –
– Chances are what happened on that date you just thought of was different to the norm. It may have been extra good or extra bad, but it’s uniqueness is what makes you remember the date it occurred. For instance, you’re not likely to remember the exact date you bought washing up liquid from the shop, because it is likely to be a regular, boring occurrence in your life. Whilst you may remember the 21st of September 2015, for example, because you found out you got hired for a new job. These distinctive, special, uncommon events are what you need to search out when you find yourself a slave to the humdrum momentum of time.
Life will repeat itself. You will wake up, go to work, cook food, walk the dog, raise your children, do the household chores, bathe and go to bed to start it all again 8 hours later. That’s not a bad life, as long as you search out new experiences along the way too.
Time is so very complex. It can feel fast and slow, sometimes at the same time. You can get lost in it or you can feel outside of it. Sometimes it carries you away and other times you feel like your mentally urging the seconds to go by. There is no realistic way for us to actual appreciate and cherish the time we have in day to day life. But, in the same way we set days aside to show extra love for family members (Mothers, Fathers, Valentines Day), maybe we should start setting days aside to reanimate ourselves to life.
– All this quote really means is get out of your comfort zone and do something unordinary for you.
Not that you should be jumping out of a plane, wrestling a Grizzly Bear whist plummeting into the centre of a live volcano everyday.
Just do something new and therefore likely nerve wrecking for you.-
What concerns me about this acceleration in time is that not only are the older generations experiencing it, those younger are as well. I have a theory about why this is, to do with technology and the way life, and how the we value our lives is changing in response to Facebook and Instagram etc.
There are many points to that theory, but the main gist of it is that a lot of the time I think we experience things only enough to have the evidence that we’re experienced them. By which I mean, we take pictures to show off our interesting lives but we aren’t actually connected to those interesting lives we’ve spent so much time cultivating.
How present can we be when before even arriving to a destination we are thinking of pictures we can take? The captions we can write? The lyrics we can quote it to etc.
I think this way of life, this upbringing that is all a younger generation might know, can be crippling. I already know that for a large portion of children and teens their life is valued (by themselves and their peers) only by how valuable it appears to be to those they are displaying it for. Their days aren’t distinguishable because they aren’t experiencing their ‘firsts’ in a real, tangible way. Instead, moving from one Instagram picture to another, one tweet to the next and a Facebook post to the following. Time is losing meaning for them too because they are not connected with their real world.
I’m of the opinion that my generation – children born in the 90’s – were the last to experience a good childhood. We had the thrill of upcoming technology and all it brought, but weekends were still spent outside. We didn’t own mobile phones until we were teenagers, and even then there was only enough credit on it for emergency phone calls. We weren’t documenting our every movement online and dealing with internet trolls. We played with actual toys rather than computer generated ones. We were just living our lives, not living to display our lives.
And whilst this growth in technology is amazing, I think it’s our responsibility to teach the next generation how to actually use it. If that means refusing to buy your 5 year old their own iPad then that’s what it means. If it means leading by example and putting our own phones away to be present then that’s what it means.
I’m not trying to tell everyone to do thing a certain way. I can be just as bad when it comes to losing time and using social networks to my detriment. And there are always individual circumstances that effect what is right and wrong for different people. This post isn’t meant to instruct you on how you should live your life. It’s more my personal pondering and asking the question what, if anything, you think needs to be done to help stop time from slipping through our fingers. And what, if anything, we can do to help the next generation be well rounded people, rather than exclusively digital versions of themselves. How can we co-exist in both our virtual reality (with the digital identity we have created for ourselves) and our real lives?
I hope this post made sense (at least somewhat). I always admire people who can convey their jumbled, intertwined thoughts into an eloquent piece of writing because it is hard. One thought leads to another and it’s easy to go off subject despite the links, which make sense, in your head. I’ve tried my best to stay on subject and make my thoughts appear concise. But if I failed miserably thanks for attempting to read the post anyways.
Let me know what your thoughts regarding this subject are. Both the passing of time and how you think social media is affecting us? Do you agree that it is altering the way we conceive time and our own lives?
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