Nowadays, time seems to pass faster than ever. The technology and electronics development has helped humans to outsource many functions that have been previously performed only manually. As a result, today people are enjoying over-productiveness and are able to complete in more complex tasks assigned to them and at the same time decrease the hours spent in the workplace. People try to make each day of their lives as productive as possible frequently complaining about the lack of time while explaining the reasons for missed opportunities to meet with friends or attend another sports competition of their children. The oversaturation of life with the activities, goals, tasks and more importantly data flowing from all possible sources endangers human ability to actually process the incoming information and perceive time correctly. It seems that the new perception of time, meaning the perception of the length of a day, week or month, hinders the human ability to synchronize, integrate and reflect on the moments of their life.
The key concepts that will be covered in the current paper include the synchronization, causality, perception, time, digital time, historical time, and temporal binding. Some of them can be understood instantly whereas others require interpretation or at least a short explanation. Synchronization, for instance, stands for creating the sense of unity among all the systems that report to the human brain and shape the picture that appears in one’s mind similar to the one that exists in the real time. The synchronization might be severely affected by a number of factors that depend both, on the outer and inner characteristics of a person. The perception is the psychological process that occurs when the person encounters certain emotion, poem, or item resulting in the formation of an idea or feeling about that particular thing or feeling. The perception is largely dependent on the state of the person, his or her cognitive capabilities, the open-mindedness and other factors. Causality is related to the ability of the people to establish the connections between certain dates, indicators, events and other time-related factors and to harmonize them by adding an inherent meaning. The causality might also be affected by the various forces and the ability of a person to reflect on the things, as well as his or her willingness to spend time on analyzing the diverse incoming data, events and the timeframe in which they exist. Digital time is the term that has recently emerged due to the constant advancement of technology and its influence on the lives of people. It refers to the time periods spent online or with the technological device. The overall amount of time spent with electronic devices tends to steadily grow. The digital time is usually contrasted against the historical and real time. The historical time seems to be more objective as it is measured and traced by several individuals who actually determine which events are important and meaningful and which ones will soon become insignificant just as the rest of the informational junk nowadays.
One of the experiments that have been undertaken by Eagleman demonstrates that the perceptions of the time and the images that are demonstrated to the person largely depend on the frequency of the changed images (p.2). The author refers to the experiment when the participants were given a toy that comprised a picture of a bird and a tree branch, which united when the toy was span. Wherever the participants span the toy slowly, they could see the borders between the pictures and could distinguish that there were actually two of them. At the same time, when the speed of spin increased, it all formed only one picture. As a result, the speed at which the spin occurred actually affected the perceptions of the participants despite the fact that the time framework remained unchanged. Two important conclusions regarding the integrative ability of human minds can be drawn from this experiment. First, it is possible to see the differences and borders between the different elements and such ability is possessed by all human beings. However, the speeded operations might distract human perceptions of the reality and their ability to differentiate might subside due to the increased frequency and speed of the occurring events or other factors. Overloaded with information, the human brain might perceive things in a different light leading to the adverse or even wrongful conclusions. In the course of this small experiment, the participants started to see one whole picture where there were two of the items. Most probably, the speed of the operations also affects human perception of time and their ability to make decisions. When the latter are built upon the information that has been wrongly identified by the human brain, it is usually followed by the negative consequences.
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Eagleman also notes that the perceptions of time greatly depend on the age of the person; as a rule, as people grow older, the time seems to fly faster (p.3). He explains that the perceptions of the events become more compressed and the human beings experience fewer impressive and exciting moments in their life. In fact, in one’s childhood, a person takes notice of novelties occurring every day and, therefore, the day seems to be endless. Instead, as an adult, the individual repeats the same operations during the day, and is expected to bring certain presents for the anniversaries or birthdays, for example, so that time seems to flow much faster. In other words, the temporal perceptions also depend on the emotional content of human lives, their ability to fill their life with the new experiences and emotions that demonstrate some change and help humans see the difference and overcome the routine of days passing by, all of which seem to be the same.
Speaking of the perception of events and incoming data, Wittman notes that the human being usually experiences three seconds of currently occurring event, before it transforms into the issue of the past. In other words, the present moment consists of only three seconds that are enough for the brain to grasp the moment and to produce the reaction indicating that the person is actually experiencing certain process. In this context, the work of Wittman interestingly interweaves with that of Eagleman, who notes that in some cases the people’s inability to process the language or other signs derived from the reality might occur due to their temporal disorders and falsified perception of time rather than due to their language deficiency. Moreover, this idea is also reflected in the works of Hoffman who admits that nowadays the human beings are exposed to the faster flow of life so that they are forced to be in a hurry to become successful or, at least, seem to be successful. Such a lifestyle is evidently supported by the social media where everyone seems to compete for likes and attention. The fact that one’s perception of the present moment takes only three seconds, it actually makes one reconsider the pace at which the news is received and the possible effect that it might have on the person. Being overloaded with the information, life events, tasks, duties and other factors, as well as being distracted by the external noises, incoming mails and calls, the modern people might not always have these valuable three seconds to catch the moment, which indicates the present time. This is the moment when the time is whole, and the person is incapable of separating one day from another or explaining how special some day was. All this happens because modern people have not actually experienced the time in terms of the present moment.
While discussing various time dimensions, Hoffman asserts that nowadays the human capacity to think, perceive and reflect on the various time-related issues is at risk. She notes that due to the constant inflow of data, informational storms and attacks, people are actually forced to use the notions of historical time or events. Indeed, the news is incoming regularly and one piece of news seems even more impressive than the other. In the past, news arrived much later and people had more time for reflection, consideration and decision-making. In contrast, nowadays, the information keeps arriving, and it is hard to determine the events, which actually serve as certain measures, or distinct moments that help the human beings to distinguish certain time periods and navigate among them. As Hoffman writes, the bloggers produce the information in real time and there is no time left to establish the connections between the events and to perceive the meaning of the history deeply (p. 3).
While discussing the issues of time, Hoffman actually asserts that the human beings nowadays tend to speed up the operations that they undertake. Eventually, they all try to make their days brighter and filled with a variety of different tasks, experiences and goals. In different countries, people are engaged in multitasking and keep doing it even when they are not quite capable of it. The technologies help them to keep upgraded and stay involved on the constant basis. The work overload has become a norm and humans nowadays tend to compete in terms of lack of sleep and hours spent at work. Yet, as Hoffman notes, the paradox is that combining many experiences in one day actually makes people unable to experience the life. The author asserts that the human body is a complex structure that is driven by the various cognitive processes, daily cycles of body, rhythms of the life stages and different mental states (p.8). The deceleration of life processes is also not a way out, as stressed by the author, since it might also lead to the destructive and negative consequences such as the loss of temporal form and disorganization of time. The time, which is used inefficiently, eventually dissolves into the disorganized amorphousness. Therefore, it is necessary to establish one’s own pace of time that will be suitable for the particular individual. Hoffman indicates that it might be developed by means of enhancing one’s ability to live a happy life in the present time full of the correct time deployments, such as games, dancing, creative endeavors and other valuable experiences. The job might also help the person to keep updated and remain in the state when it seems that the time passes by at its natural pace, not too fast and not to slow.
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In conclusion, the perceptions of time influence the human ability to synchronize the information, integrate the data and reflect on it, as well as perceive various events. The authors agree that the speeding up of the operations and overall rush that is experienced by many people nowadays negatively affect the decision making and the ability of people to enjoy the present moment and to experience life as it is, without speeding up or slowing it down. The general recommendation is to spend time meaningfully and avoid multitasking or compression of the life events and experiences, which actually diminish the quality of one’s life impressions and the overall perception of life events. Moreover, it is also necessary for the human beings to start intentionally reflecting on the time periods that have passed to learn the valuable lessons, measure the achievements gained and actually enjoy the present moment.