The world has come a long way since the last century. In the 1920s, inventions like the washing machine, the assembly line, the radio popped up and brought about massive changes all around the world. From then, the technological boom that followed revolutionized society and has completely changed the way humans interact and function. Thanks to all this technology, our free time has grown exponentially.
Rather than spending our time reading the news, we can do something else while we listen to the radio. Instead of spending 20 minutes doing a string of calculations, we can plug a string of numbers into a calculator. Even just searching for basic information, a task that once made an encyclopedia necessary, can now be completed in mere moments with Google. We have so much time on our hands that we, humans, barely know what to do with it. Do we make our lives more fun? Sometimes. Do we make our lives more memorable, spend our times making a real difference? Occasionally. So what do we do with this time?
Work. Calculations are now done faster, but we do more of them. Words are typed instead of written, making writing faster, but we just write more. We can talk to people more easily with phones, but now we talk for hours and hours for our jobs. Rather then spending our hard-earned time shooting the breeze or having fun, we’ve decided that because we have more time thanks to others’ hard work, we must also work that hard, or more.
This is not a healthy way of living. Work is easier to do, yes, but the context of the work is just as hard. 2 x 2 is still four, even if you can type it into a calculator faster than in the fifties. We are burning ourselves out on hard work, thinking that because we can do it faster than ever means that we can also do more then ever. And to add insult to injury, our breaks from working are also faster, because we think that we can get all of that break time in in a smaller amount of time because we can somehow ‘break’ faster. This stresses us out, making us fall behind on work, making us think we have to work even harder to catch back up to our already incredibly packed schedule.
The global standards have been set: Work hard, work fast, and work efficiently in order to gain a foothold in society. Is there really anything we can do about it? In other words, how can we fix this, this global rat-race? There are a few options. We can personally slow down, making sure we enjoy every moment to the fullest, but this lowers the way the people around us think of us. We can attempt to convince those around to adopt this sort of lifestyle, one where work is done, but at a more manageable pace, and where not having all eleven–teen things done by Friday isn’t somehow a disaster. Or, we can live like hermits, growing old in caves eating moss and living with pet sheep, and know that even if we personally stop working, the world will keep on revolving, the sun will still glow, and gravity won’t fail. Because in the grand scheme of things, we’re only here for a moment, so why not make the most of it?