When I was a kid and rushing around with my head cut off, my mother would always ask me, “Where’s the fire?” I often wish she were still on the planet to ask the same of what’s happening in our world. Last week I was checking in for a flight and noticed an interesting development: there were no actual people at the check in stations for the airline. In place of humans however, were kiosks that allowed us to check in electronically. But what made me laugh was that the people who used to check us in were now helping passengers figure out the kiosks. So we successfully removed the humans and gave the job to a computer, in order to make the task faster and easier, but now we need humans to speed up the process of using the computers that either we cannot figure out or simply do not work. Fantastic, a brilliant innovation!
The companies that are making new technological advancements brag that the new toys can make things go faster, streamline our lives, and save us that most precious commodity: time. Teenagers interviewed report that that conversations in real time take too long, go too slow. Why waste the time? Friendship is faster and more to the point by text. Relationships are easier on line without the boring in-betweens and pauses that come with real conversations. Everybody is busily talking about saving time, as if time is something we can stockpile and cash in at a later date. If only we could save enough time to get something we really want. We are so delighted to be able to spend less time doing what we used to do. Who knows, perhaps soon there will be an app for making love without having to waste the time getting to know a partner, investing the time in dinner and a movie. Maybe there already is. But the question remains: where’s the fire? Where are we all rushing to? What are we frantically saving time for, in order to spend on what?
Everything I have ever really enjoyed in my life took time… everything I am skilled at, took time to learn. every important relationship, took time to grow. Time is the vitamin of meaning, and well-being. To invest time in something is nourishing to our spirit. Real time reaps real benefits. So what’s the rush to do away with spending time on anything?
Lastly, from a practical perspective, don’t we have to do something when we wake up in the morning? Our body has to be somewhere, doesn’t it? If we’ve completed everything we need to do by 8:15 AM, where are we supposed to go? It seems that we are busy saving time in order to free ourselves up to sit on the couch and play solitaire on our iphones. Well-being, this is not. Is this what we have created all of this innovation for? Is this the new purpose of life, to be thoroughly idle or distracted? It seems that we would be better off trying to make our tasks more satisfying and interesting rather than speeding them up so that we can get free to… At the rate we are going, there will soon be nothing left whatsoever for us humans to do. Then, with all the activities on which we used to spend our days ground down to a moment or two, we will at last be free to play angry bird from morning till night. Hallelujah, the Messiah has come!