Ironically, I read this on a beautiful summer’s afternoon last week, sat on a bench without a care in the world or an eye on my watch. But Joe Zadeh’s piece on ‘the tyranny of time’ opened my eyes to how much of a chokehold clock time has on us in the West:
We discipline our lives by the time on the clock. Our working lives and wages are determined by it, and often our “free time” is rigidly managed by it too. Broadly speaking, even our bodily functions are regulated by the clock: We usually eat our meals at appropriate clock times as opposed to whenever we are hungry, go to sleep at appropriate clock times as opposed to whenever we are tired and attribute more significance to the arresting tones of a clock alarm than the apparent rising of the sun at the center of our solar system. The fact that there is a strange shame in eating lunch before noon is a testament to the ways in which we have internalized the logic of the clock. We are “time-binding” animals, as the American economist and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin put it in his 1987 book, “Time Wars.” “All of our perceptions of self and world are mediated by the way we imagine, explain, use and implement time.”
Until I read this, I used to have alarms set on my phone to go off every 2 hours on the hour between 10am-8pm. I thought they helped to ground me and keep me “in the moment”. Since turning it off I’ve not noticed a difference. Funny, that.