Why do we feel as if time is moving faster?

Ayesha Hussain, Contributing Writer

The entity of time is something that fascinates us, rejuvenates us and lurks ahead of us all. Time is what we hold onto, yet time is also what we let go of in the end. Time helps heal heartbreak. Time is what rushes you out the door in the morning, and time is what pushes you along through milestones in your life like graduation, marriage and birthdays.

Remember eating strawberry ice cream on your grandma’s porch when you were five years old? How about heading to the beach with your family over the summers? Or waiting all year for your birthday to arrive when you were turning seven? Those times had a calming and leisurely pace. What about meeting your first love interest after Friday night football games in high school? Those evenings felt so good, didn’t they? The mood was full of warm, exciting suspense; the evenings felt slow and memorable, but not rushed. Is time moving faster now than in the past, or is it an illusion?

To address this ticking question, there are a few routes into which we can delve. The first: that science can prove that time is literally moving faster, and the second: that we perceive time differently as we grow older. The frequency of the Earth, measured in hertz (Hz), is referred to as Schumann Resonance. This measures the rate over a given period of time. Simply put, the higher the hertz measured, the greater the Earth’s frequency is, leading scientists to believe that the Earth, in fact, is moving quicker. Studies show that back in 1950, the frequency of the Earth was around 7.8 Hz and nowadays that rate is much higher; in December 2019, there was a record-breaking frequency of 158 Hz.

But there is also a more relative notion that, as we grow older, we feel and think that time moves more quickly. This concept can be explained partially by the experiences we accumulate with age and the lack of particularly novel events that occur later in life. When we are younger, most of the activities and experiences that we encounter are new, and therefore fill up a large part of our memory. For example, when we celebrated our fifth birthday, we most likely remember our parents dressing up nicely, our friends arriving with rainbow gift bags, the party room, the cake itself — the sprinkles, frosting, the smell in the air of sweet sugar and sweaty kids — we probably remember the feeling of waking up that morning full of adrenaline knowing the day is holding a lot of enjoyment and fun. But as we age, events soon become recurrent and no longer fresh — each birthday is just another birthday, and by the time we’re in our fifties, we don’t necessarily even want to celebrate anymore.

Personally, time really does feel quicker for me recently. I recall my days of elementary school; those five years felt like two decades, each drama club night rehearsal felt longer than three hours and summers felt everlasting. I think about my graduation from high school — it felt like yesterday. I recall dressing up to walk across the podium with my diploma. I wondered where the next four years will take me — physically, mentally and experientially.  And quite frankly, as a college senior year now, it does not feel like it has been about three and a half years since I’ve graduated high school. As much as I’ve grown personally and academically and feel more confident in speaking up about things I stand for, such as diversity and unity in a society that still faces social justice issues, I can only wish time slowed down a bit more in college. I’d like to enjoy little moments more, like strolls and stargazing. Aside from college, it seems as if everyone is so busy these days. It may not be that time is literally moving quicker, but maybe that many people have so many priorities and tasks that take up so much time of the day leaving almost no hours left. I recall my high school years, in which my days would wake me up at six in the morning to tackle a full day of classes until 3 p.m., which was followed by tennis practice and matches, allowing me to arrive home around 7-8 p.m., only to eat a quick dinner, then study and do homework until 2-3 a.m. I recall being super overwhelmed by my commitments — the school newspaper, sports teams, AP classes, clubs, volunteer work and applications. In a blink of an eye, it was over. I realized that those few years were full of stress and I was unable to stop and enjoy some of the moments. This can just be the nature of the society we live in — we must work hard and long to achieve a prestigious position only to be even more busy and blind to the beauty of moments that will soon become nostalgic memories. Maybe our society is so fierce with competition and commitments that we won’t be able to slow down the pace?

Growing up outside New York City, I realize that young men and women are hustling to the train station at 6 a.m. to arrive at the office, and some do not get home until the very late hours of the evening only to complete more work from home. Sure, not everyone has such demanding careers, but there is so much pressure in society to be “great” and to be successful. To a lot of people, success is measured by money, and due to the stark competition, young adults are more pressured than ever before to acquire prestigious jobs. Aside from career stress, there is a great deal of social stress caused by technology. Many people spend a lot of time on social media, which cuts out minutes and hours from one’s day in a subtle manner that causes the user to not even realize how much time that they’ll never get back spent on their devices. Our generation seems to be caught up with who is doing what right at this moment, and we are guilty of checking in on social media to see what friends, peers, and family are doing rather than visiting them in person. As much as social media is supposed to bring us together, it really pushes us apart — many users are checking their accounts in their rooms alone. I can’t help but notice that even in social gatherings today, people are physically together, but are mentally separated as I observe people eyeing their phones instead of talking to the people next to them.

With all these pressures we encounter, it seems as if we forget to enjoy the moment. We are so caught up in academics, jobs and sometimes other people’s lives, that we don’t realize that time is passing and it will continue to move through us, so we must stop and take in the experience when we are in it. We should look around and enjoy the company of people we spend time with, observe the smell of the air, the color of the sky. We must analyze and appreciate the beauty of moments that will soon disperse into sweet memories that we can only hold onto since time will not let us re-visit. Given that time only moves forward, we should try to take part in activities we enjoy, surround ourselves with people we love, hold on to dreams that we wish to fulfill, and retain hope to drive us forward.

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