It may be a cliché but time appears to be speeding up. Christmas is around the corner. Yet last Christmas does not seem that long ago. When I was in school the holidays were always “ages away” and term time dragged. Teenagers today reflect on how quickly the terms pass.
There are many reasons put forward to explain this phenomenon. The commonest one is that time goes faster when we are busy. It is certainly the case for many people that we lead very busy lives. Children today do not have the whole weekend to roam around the parks and neighborhood. They have an assortment of pre-arranged events to be at or involved in. Adults too have ever-increasing prior commitments filling up whatever spare time there might be.
Something else, which makes time go faster is that, we no longer have to wait for anything. Prior generations would have to wait till Christmas or birthdays for that new pair of shoes. Today we just get it. And if we don’t want to wait for the shops to open we can buy it online at midnight.
News of what was happening with relatives far away would have to wait until a letter arrived. News was at night on TV or wait till the morning paper. Teens could chat with a friend or two on the phone but general catch-ups would have to wait for the next day. Now everyone can get in on a facebook chat group.
We can all find out instantly whatever is going on in the world – whether it concerns us or not.
At the same time many people are feeling isolated. We are all connected but somehow more apart. We can have thousands of facebook friends but nobody to catch up with for coffee next Thursday.
There is nothing wrong with social media or having lots of friends online. They are not a replacement for “offline” friends who one can literally shake hands with. Engaging with people online (excluding video calling) reduces communication, as there is no body language. And in the case of the written word no vocal tone, modulation or expression.
Two recent studies looked at the impact of relationships on health. One found that those with partners had better recovery post heart attack. The other showed people living in close communities had lower rates of stroke. There is likely a direct and indirect effect at play in both.
Humans are social creatures and we need the companionship of others. It is relationships, which endure as we see on headstones. It is always about relationships not what job you held and it won’t be the number of friends on facebook.
We are lucky to live in the modern age and have the technologies that we have. Equally like the knife or fire they can enhance or impair our lives depending on how we choose to use them. In evolutionary terms it is like having new toys to play with. It captures our attention.
It is good to have new toys and they can enhance our lives. What endures and continues to, are our connections to family and friends. Make sure that each week you tend your relationships.