Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Why does time go by faster as you get older?

As people get older, they tend to notice that time goes by faster than it did when they were young. And the older they get, the more they notice this phenomenon. So what the heck is going on?

Well, first to dispel a myth – and that is the idea that time seems to progress faster as you get older - simply because you are older!

For a five year old, a year is one fifth of their life. Hence a period of one year is a substantial period of time compared to their five-year life.

For a 20 year old, by comparison, one year is only 5 percent of their life, and, so the argument goes, time will therefore appear to go by faster.

But this argument obviously doesn’t hold up – otherwise a period of one year should pass by three times more quickly for a 60 year old man – for whom 1 year is only one-sixtieth of his life.

Nope, what is going on is far more subtle and it’s all about how we perceive time.

Most adults are, of course, preoccupied. They have a lot of things to do. And as a result, there is simply less time in their lives. Being busy is bad, and before you know it, the day is already over and you’ve had no time to reflect on anything at all.

Things are different for kids. They are focused on “the now” and couldn’t care less about next week let alone next month. And of course, they have loads of free time to reflect upon things.

But as adults we can - if we want - make time move more slowly. Or more quickly. After all, who hasn’t killed a few hours of their life by getting engrossed in an entertaining show on TV? And before you know it, the TV show is over, and 2 hours of your life have gone forever – and in a much faster way than it would have if you had simply just sat out on your porch and spent some time gazing up at the stars.

One of the greatest time killers now is personal technology – especially things like playstations, the internet, and, of course, smartphones.

Walk around nowadays and you’ll notice that so many people have got their heads down, pressing frantically on tiny little buttons, and pretending to do something important - when all they are doing is simply making time go by faster! Derr!!!!!!

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