The perception of time

Written on 21 January 2020, 04:03pm

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The perception of time changes constantly, depending on our age or on the activities we’re engaged in. Old people tend to perceive time as moving faster.

The reason? Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. In other words, the more new memories we build on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight.

Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up with Age?

Most of the memories that we carry with us are from the age 15 to 30. That’s because there are more ‘firsts’ at that age compared to the late fifties, for instance. This effect is known as the reminiscence effect, or reminiscence bump.

If we want life to slow down, to make moments memorable and our lives unforgettable, we may want to remember to harness the power of firsts.
If you always eat in front of the TV, it might make the day feel a little more extraordinary if you gather for a family dinner around a candlelit table.

There’s an art to happy memories — you can make more by experiencing more “first”s

There is also the common feeling that you have less and less time. While this can be often explained by bad planning, the situation is more complex. One of the activities that are taking up our time is the household work. The technological progress gave us the impression that they should be a thing of the past. After all, we now have washing machines, dryers, vacuum robots, better cooking devices, and so on. Yet, we spend more or less the same time around the house. “New home tech also created new kinds of work that absorbed the extra time”: see the refrigerator + supermarket cycle.

In the 1950s, a British civil servant coined the term Parkinson’s Law to explain the phenomenon that “work expands to fill the available time.” The rule first described the seemingly infinite busywork of government bureaucracies. But it might also apply to housework. Expectations rose, and work expanded to fill the available time.

Three Theories for Why You Have No Time

(somehow related, it’s the Jevons paradox: Increases in energy efficiency generate savings. History shows all savings are spent).

Then, there are the children. According to a recent study, the amount of time spent by parents on childcare in the United States began to rise dramatically in the mid1990s. The fact that the college tuition keeps rising certainly doesn’t help.

There’s so much of “place” in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.

The Room movie