Time in this age is considered a resource, like money or water.
Whether that’s an accurate description of time is unimportant, because that’s how it’s treated. To that end, just as we develop water-saving technologies, we have also been developing time-saving technologies, or so they have been marketed.
Does the technology of today actually save us time, overall?
It isn’t a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no, unfortunately.
It may seem that now, it’s so much faster to get a message to someone than 50 years ago, so much faster to get information, products, entertainment. But on the opposite side of that, we make up for these expedited services by using more of them. For example, when the television was first sold on the market, people claimed that it wouldn’t take off because nobody had the time to sit and stare at a screen. Lo and behold, the television was the most used method of entertainment in the western world for much of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st.
Technology, as it innovates and provides us with more services, prompts us to use those services. That’s to be expected.
But what most people don’t expect is that just as those services offer themselves for our use, we in a way offer ourselves for their use. Instead of allowing the expedited systems to save us time, and applying that extra time to other ventures, we instead use the time those services saved us for more of that service.
This can clearly be seen in services like Netflix.
It was fairly uncommon in earlier days to television entertainment to sit and watch a full day of a series. If you did watch multiples of a series, it was on days when a marathon was being aired, and even then you likely didn’t stay for the full marathon. Now, it’s very common to “binge-watch” a television series on Netflix, watching many episodes with minimal breaks in between them. This, because Netflix is on demand, can go on for days at a time, whenever the viewer wishes to watch something. In this way, innovation has caused us to devote more time to the service that’s been innovated.
This can be seen in many aspects of modern life.
In the workplace, people tend to bring their work home more often than before, as it’s as simple as bringing a laptop, or even more simply, a flash drive, with them. Instead of doing more work at work with these technologies, and keeping it all there, people do a lot in the workplace and a lot at home. In the earlier days of computing, it was almost impossible to bring work home, as most computerized industries were worked by people without computers at home, and even if they did it was unlikely they had the ability to bring their documents and programs with them. This meant that, for the most part, when someone came home from work, they didn’t spend any time on it that they normally would have spent with their families.
Its irrefutable that technology has come a long way from the punch-card computers and cathode-ray televisions of the early to mid 20th century. Much of these technologies are now advertised as time saving, and in a certain way they are. However, how we use them hasn’t changed how much time we spend on the things they streamline, but rather how much of that action we do in the same amount of time. This has definitely made the workforce more effective, but is it healthy for them?
Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his school’s newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.
You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault