Life Goes By Fast: It’s Time to Start Living in the Real World
It becomes clear that as time unfolds, the fleeting nature of our existence becomes more palpable. This notion is not your average shower thought. It is very much grounded in psychology and the mechanics of perception. Various studies have dissected why time seems to speed up as we age.
One perspective is that for a 10-year-old, a single year represents a whopping 10% of their life, making time appear to trudge along slowly. However, for a 40-year-old, a year merely represents 2.5% of their life; hence, time seemingly whizzes by.
A more nuanced understanding dives into the physics of neural signal processing. Professor Adrian Bejan from Duke University theorizes that as we age, the rate at which we process visual information decelerates. This slowing down of information processing is what seems to make time feel as though it’s speeding up.
In this article, let’s explore why it is so important to make the best use of time and live a more worthwhile life.
The Acceleration of Time
Psychologist Aoife McLoughlin from James Cook University found evidence suggesting that living in technocentric societies can increase the internal pacemaker within us. While this adaptation might boost the speed we work, it also makes us more aware of time and the pressure that realization brings.
McLoughlin’s research found that individuals constantly connected to technology overestimated time passage compared to those who rarely used it.
This difference in perception could cause stress, as they were more likely to feel like time was fleeting. Thus, we owe it to ourselves to start making the most of the time we have.
Social Media Addiction
Social media addiction is rising, with 30% of American adults considering themselves addicted to social media. It is an avenue where people spend a lot of time with little overall benefit.
The addiction rates are more pronounced among younger demographics. Data shows that 40% of 18 to 22-year-olds and 37% of 23 to 38-year-olds admit to social media addiction.
Platforms like Instagram have managed to be so detrimental to mental health that many have even taken legal action against Meta. According to TorHoerman Law, Instagram use among young people is thought to be associated with depression, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia.
Many of these Instagram lawsuit cases also involve people who have been affected by social comparison, another subtle yet dangerous trend. When comparing ourselves with others, we lose focus on what really matters. Regardless of your opinion of Dr. Jordan Peterson, he aptly states that the only person you should compare yourself to is “the person that you were yesterday.”
5 Practical Steps for Reclaiming Reality
To counter the adverse effects of digital overload, it’s essential to take actionable steps. Let’s look at some options.
1. Scheduled Digital Detox
Set aside certain times of the day or week for a digital detox, during which you stay away from digital devices and social media. Use this time to engage in real-world activities like reading a physical book, gardening, or simply going for a walk.
2. Mindful Technology Use
Utilize apps and tools that allow you to be more mindful and help you reduce digital distractions. For instance, apps that block distracting websites or limit social media use can be helpful. Moreover, practicing mindfulness can help enhance focus and reduce the allure of the online world.
3. Engage in Nature Therapy
Participate in nature-based activities like forest bathing. This is a practice that involves spending time in nature and experiencing it through all your senses. It can help ground people in the real world and promote mental wellness.
4. Monk Mode
Dedicate specific time slots for deep work, or “Monk Mode,” where you turn off digital distractions and focus solely on one task at a time. This practice can enhance productivity and provide a break from technology.
5. Physical Activity or Sports
Engage in physical activities or sports that require real-world interaction and teamwork. This not only promotes physical well-being but also provides an avenue for social interaction away from digital platforms.
These are just a few options. With some effort, you can find more ways to not only decelerate your perception of time but also enrich your real-world experiences.
As a society, we need to take a close, hard look at our relationship with technology. Does it play too big a role in your life? We need to self-reflect and consider redefining how we interact with technology and the real world.
Whether that means cutting back on our tech usage or simply spending more time talking with friends and family, it doesn’t matter. Time goes by quickly, and the sooner we start living more holistically, the more fulfilling our lives are likely to become.