Part of an ongoing interview series about the use of personal technology.
Eight in ten people I speak with feel the world is speeding up.
One in ten claims the opposite, that the world is seemingly slowing down – or that it’s not changing in pace. Another ten percent are unsure, or believe the situation more nuanced than what can be expressed through binary answer.
Still eighty percent respond positively, often exposing relief – yes! – of course! – shocked the question even warrants asking.
The supposition could be dismissed as baseless. Objectively speaking, the flow of time remains unaltered, as many are quick to point out. I propose reality is partially constructed from our perception – which means concrete aspects of how we experience it is affected by how we perceive it.
In other words, the perception of acceleration (talking and thinking about it) partially reinforces the experience of acceleration (shortness of breath, anxiety), in an a potentially endless reinforcement loop.
The firehose of information one has to manage in modern life is often cited as the primary reason for perceived acceleration. Global twenty-four-seven news feeds, breaking scientific discoveries and paradigms, endless vacation pictures, potential new connections, memes and streaming video offerings all contribute to the sense of speeding up. Staying abreast with the world is a full-time job, and the amount of information we fail to absorb greatly outweighs our capacity to keep up.