You can’t coax a train out of a tunnel. You have to be patient and wait it out behind the yellow line.
Perhaps the only thing we don’t have to wait for is the next alert or push message. Writes author Michael Harris on how mobile connectivity intercepts our sense of time:
Our sense of time has always been warped by our technologies. Church bells segmented the day into intervals. Factory whistles ushered workers. But the current barrage of alerts and pings leaves us more warped than ever. I’ve been trained not just to expect disruption, but to demand it. Back in 1890, William James wrote in The Principles of Psychology that “our sense of time seems subject to the law of contrast.” No kidding.
He goes on to explain how technology resolves our impatience by numbing us “to the pleasure of patience.” We quell our anxiety with the rectangular glow so the late train no longer puts us on edge.
In chasing any goal, it behooves people to keep the patience. Things always take longer than we think but appear shorter in the telescope of perspective.
The train will eventually come and we’ll hop on, prompting the nerves to jumpstart in anticipation of the next destination. As we grow nervous and impatient, the rectangular glow acts like a pacifier to allay our fears.
When we’re moving along plugged-in at warp speed, we are no longer tracking time. Like a carrot, the clock dangles in front of our eyes, waiting for us to notice its blessings.
gif by @rafaeldearaujo