How telling time has changed mankind for all of well, time. Right?
Think back to history class, to when we were kids learning about early civilization. Telling time with the rise and fall of the sun, the sundial, the clock, the watch, or now a days, the smartphone. Measuring time is as integral to human existence as wearing clothing, checking the weather, and just slightly less important than breathing our air or eating our food.
The impact you ask? We very much set our lives to it. Entire cultures run on the idea that being on time is barely good enough and that being early is the norm and entire cultures view being late to an appointment as a grave insult. Industries such as motorsports racing, marathon cycling, or any other untold number of Olympic sports are designed purely around the idea that one person is faster than the next person than the next person after that.
There is also of course, the criticism that we as a society are ruled and controlled by time. The idea that time is a construct used to control people is a fairly well known idea. After all, if you’re late to work, don’t you get in trouble? If speed on the highway, doesn’t the officer ask you how many miles per hour you think you were going? In this case then, there are those who want to be free of needing to measure time and this too, feeds into the idea that time is important. After all, you want all the time in the world to do nothing, to decide freely when you when to do something and isn’t this just as important as the freedom to decide when not to do something?
So then, for much of the industrial era, in between the period of Mobile phones and pocket watches, there was and still is the wristwatch. It still remains one of the standard accessories on many people’s dresser tops, and has defined class and success for the last 150 years. How you may ask? We reiterate that wearing a watch is a choice, rather than a requirement for most. Still, some don’t consider how important a wrist watch is until they’re without one.
Think for a moment, someone recently promoted to a new position? What better way to show your success than to spurge on a new timepiece for your wrist? The idea, for better or worst, is that your watch defines you. Is it a sporty watch because you’re a marathon runner or a tool watch because you dive? Is it a luxury piece that you’ve bought to show your friends you’ve made it to the next step in life? There are even women who have proposed to their men with a watch, a more modern approach.
Socially speaking, a watch is one of the few accessories men wear regularly and some are frequently passed down as heirlooms as well. Women too, wear them in much the same way though the designs lean more towards the delicate rather than the heavy tool type dive watches men are prone to beating up. Though they may be costly, a luxury timepiece such as a Rolex, Omega, Patek, Grand Seiko, will last decades with proper servicing and so they are often passed down to children and grand-children beyond.
In more dire circumstances, a watch is a reliable way of telling the date and time if you’re in a hospital alone. If it’s bad luck that your room doesn’t have a clock or you can’t see it, a watch will tell you the time so you can keep your sense of internal rhythm. People underestimate just how much they use time to schedule their very thoughts and actions, never thinking about it until they realize they need to constantly ask someone else to tell them the time.
Losing time too, causes heartache. Losing musicians and celebrities ‘before their time’. Opportunities unfulfilled by relationships cut off at the knees or distances too great to travel to attend special events. Ever missed a plane, train, or a bus? Not enough time. Ever worked too many hours in a week? Not enough time. What about running out of time on a debate floor? Always not enough hours in the day for many of us. The common complaint? Ask me for anything but time.
In more pleasant escapes, time is fun to mess with in pop culture. Think movies like Back to the Future I-III and books like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Music beats built to excite and energize the human body. Instruments changing their timing to give voice to emotion. Comedy and precisely placed jokes for that perfect hilarious punchline. Performers keeping their rhythm to effortlessly flow across their stages. Without timing, we wouldn’t have any of that.
To this end, time is a science, an exacting one. It’s numbers are included in measuring distances, curvatures of the earth, and landing a man on the moon. Time gives you choice. Time also gives you consequences. How you manage time determines a lot of, if not your entire lifetime. To do it poorly seems fairly disastrous then right? After all, time is the only thing you can’t get back. It only goes forward. So do yourself a favor, get with the times.