Supercool, super fast. Oh my, we can do anything, in an instant. Need a flight? Buy one on your mobile on the way to the airport. Need to hear the decision from your board meeting, need to know the results of the FA Cup final? Receive a text in the desert, the jungle, half way up a mountain. We’re free to buy last minute, free to communicate, free to surf, explore and do more than ever before. But what’s happened to Time? Doing more than ever before means being expected to do more. How many hours are you working? And what’s your workload like today/this week/this year?
Once upon a time, dear Readers, bus and train journeys were a time to sit on the bus or train. Read perhaps. Talk maybe. Sleep, think, dream… Holidays used to mean not working. That used to be the point of them. People couldn’t get hold of you so they had to wait. That hard bit of plastic in your pocket tracks you everywhere. That symbol of freedom can be as restricting as a curfew tag bleeping at you anytime you go so far as to relax.
I’m really feeling this just now. As director of a festival happening end of October (York Lesbian Arts Festival 23-26 October, www.ylaf.org.uk) I’m especially busy. A new phrase is popping into my vocabulary: Time Poor. “I’m time poor” I apologetically tell my good friends patiently trying to get a date where they can talk and laugh and eat and share fun times with me. “I’m time poor.” I tell my Reflexologist, ironically trying to book a session to reduce stress. Trying to fit it into my diary sends my stress levels through the roof.
I have a totally unrealistic expectation of what I can do in a day. And when I’m pushed I do that to myself day after day after day. Because you see, I can do so much, and all from home. I can book, change, rearrange, program, typeset, proof-read, do a deal, all with my tiny plastic phone and my thin as air laptop. Woohoo! Digital me, instant me, exhausted me, failing me – failing to do the work of three people. And still not getting it: It’s all so fast…why can’t I do that and that and hey where’s the day gone?
Most children have time, most elders have time, and in between most of us work like drones. Unless you’re blessed I’m guessing you’re working long, hard hours, maybe a little down time, and then you sleep… Are your working conditions really any better than the miners, chimney sweeps and match-girls of the 19th century? Or labourers in Elizabethan times. Do you have better rights? Can you tell your boss the list of tasks they’ve just given you is unrealistic? Or worse, are you, somewhat like me, your own jailor?
One of the reasons different religions have rules about what can and can’t be done on the Sabbath and holy days is so people weren’t forced to work in times when folks also worked 24/7. Worshipping was a legitimate reason to stop. A child needs time to learn and play and grow, and so do you and me…
We make the world we live in. This wonderful technology can be harnessed to make life sweeter, and we must take charge of it. Put the brake on. Be the boss of you.