My response to an article about National Slow Down week was particularly appropriate: I stopped.
Just for a second – but, long enough to prove the author right. Slowing down feels slightly alien. I seem to have become accustomed to doing everything at double speed – and at the same time.
Whilst not wasting further time re-hashing what has already been written, the speed of society debate is definitely worth pausing upon – because I’m not sure that it’s just a result of the technical revolution or even a reflection of today’s society; and, I’m not sure that it only affects the up-and-coming-city-dwelling-highly-strung next generation. It does, I suspect, go slightly deeper than that.
Fast forward living – the talking on the phone whilst emailing the office and exercising the buttock muscles with half an eye on the supper – is all about doing. It is not about thinking or feeling or engaging – but about getting things done and moving on to the next thing.
This is the trade off.
This is why it is important to think about slowing down and look at why society is speeding up.
Because, while we’re busy getting things done, we’re not doing anything properly.
Take the toast that burnt while you were ironing that shirt; or, the friend who was pouring out her soul as you were packing your bag for the office; that day out where you spent most of the time keeping an eye on the clock so as not to miss the next activity; or, the email you sent to the person you were thinking about rather than the one you were writing too….
Point made. We’re all guilty. Or, maybe, we’re all just human.
Fast forward living is all about doing, achieving, ticking things off. It’s how we rate our day (9 out of 10 on the to do list); how we gauge our popularity (4 dates in the diary for this week); how we identify our sense of self (“what do you do?”). It’s not surprising that there’s a lot to cram in.
Cramming things in takes the emphasis off thinking about things. It’s a great transference activity and, probably, just part of a natural human tendency towards avoiding difficult feelings. If I’m busy busy busy with a whole list of highly important household chores and a full calendar to navigate – well, then, there isn’t time to feel lonely or bored or dissatisfied….
100 years ago, you’d probably have sat with the boredom. I doubt you’d expect the instant satisfaction. I imagine that loneliness was felt – and got over.
The difference between then, and now, isn’t really in the internet or technology or aviation – it’s in the way that we’ve responded to human emotions – and the speed that’s involved in managing these feelings.
I’m not sure that society is speeding up because it’s got somewhere that its desperate to get to – I think that we might be speeding away from a few things instead…