Is time going faster?
Most of the people I have asked this question, tell me “yes” they believe time is going faster. Different people interpret this in a few different ways.
According to some Islamic traditions time will start to move faster before يوم القيامة the end of days, or armageddon.
Before we can discuss whether or not time is going faster we must define what we mean by time.
No matter how we define “time” it will always be abstract. Time is a phenomenon that we cannot simply show. I cannot show you some time. I can only show you the effects of time through sequences of events. I could show you the pictures of a baby growing up into an adult, or let you hear the sounds of music and experience flow of notes one after the other.
Without seeing something experience it’s effects time is somewhat impossible to comprehend.
With that said there is “time” a natural component of the cosmos. Something that seems to be as essential as mass/energy for reality as we know it to exist.
Einstein showed that time is relative. It isn’t always the same, it can differ from place to place in the cosmos depending on other conditions.
Does that imply that the fundamental nature of “time” here on earth is changing? Well, if this was the case it would be in line with the end of days in Islamic tradition.
However, the conditions that influence the nature of time are tremendous, and such changes would greatly impact the other forces of nature that influence the natural state of the earth.
The earths natural state is unlikely to have changed much over a few decades to change the nature of time as time exists as a natural phenomenon of the cosmos.
Besides time as a fundamental part of nature, there is time as a fundamental part of the human experience. The human experience is where I think we would find the real changes in time.
Time as a part of nature on earth is likely to have remained and continue to remain constant for billions of years. Time as part of an individual’s subjective experience is consistently changing.
Age old sayings such as “time goes fast when you’re having fun” already alluded that our experience of time changes depending on personal experience.
There is also a general understanding that as we age our experience of time goes faster.
For most of us though there seems to be a dramatic shift, a particular point in which time has accelerated tremendously.
People even in their early 20’s can remember back to a slower personal experience, and honestly a slower collective human experience.
If we step back and look and the shifts in society, I think we can start to identify what it is that created such a shift.
Most of us on the forums and most of us alive today are old enough to remember a time before the internet became as readily available and efficient as it is now, a time before smart phones, when the only place you could get information was through books.
As the access to information became greater and the means of communication became easier there was a direct correlation with the increase in the amount of information we are expected to process and the actions we expected to perform.
When the internet was less efficient than it is now a businessman might be expected to send one or two e-mails a day maybe prepare one report a week. Now that the internet has advanced the expectations have increased dramatically the same information that was needed in a week is now needed within a few hours, the business man went from sending one or two e-mails a day to sending dozens.
The reason sending dozens of e-mails and having access to the worlds information in our hands seems so dramatic is because we have a reference to a “slower” time, a time before this was our everyday lives.
If you imagine an individual living 200 years ago, certain activities we regard as so trivial that they barely require conscious thought, such as getting a drink of water, were tasks that could take a single day’s effort to complete.
The individual might require a pack animal and then might need to walk a good distance to a fresh water source. A single day’s effort to focus on one simple task.
At the same time the expectations on the individual were appropriately correlated with the ease in which the action could be done.
Consider travel for a moment. Our individual from 200 years ago was likely not going to travel but a few kilometers in any given day. When automobiles began to be readily available, expectations changed. An individual is no expected to travel 10’s of kilometers a day. Visiting different nearby cities isn’t just possible, it has become an expectation. The human experience sped up.
We don’t have a reference to time before cars. The reality of easy access to locations hundreds of kilometers away hasn’t influenced our experience of time, it is all we have known.
As we are able to do more in a shorter amount of time, our expectations of what we should be doing in any period of time has shifted.
Take waiting for an appointment. When I was a kid I would go to the dentist and have sit in the waiting area. There were a few magazines here and there, but mostly people just sat and waited.
If I took a someone used to having the internet at their fingertips and made them wait in a waiting room without the internet, the way they would experience the time would shift dramatically. Instead of the usual high speed relationship with time, time would be experienced extraordinarily slow.
A mind used to processing so much information at any given moment tends to struggle when the information sources are reduced or become harder to access.
Even people escaping the corporate world and trying to live off the grid. Their minds have already adapted to processing multiple information sources, that even without the internet or automobiles they tend to need information stimuli.
Often when you see such individuals living off the grid they will be setting up equipment to collect water, growing vegetables, setting up location to watch ants mate, etc.
It’s a big contrast to people born in tribal communities where there is no access to the internet or ease of travel, whose experience has always been at a slower pace.
The next generation of kids born into the information age, will take the communication and information availability for granted, in the same sense we take having the availability of automobiles for granted. For them time will not have accelerated until the next technological shift.
Murtaza Talha Ali Khabib Time“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
— Viktor E. Frankl