Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Time sure flies

It’s February already. My friends, wife and colleagues are flabbergasted at the beginning of each month. How did a full month just pass? The same shock occurred on January 1st. What happened to 2009? Where did it go?

I heard a fantastic story on NPR yesterday about the sensation of time going by faster as we age. I have often wondered why this occurs. I’ve also questioned how a day must seem like a second to my parents. It certainly is beginning to feel that way to me. The story explained some theories as to why time seems to go by faster as we age.

When you experience something for the very first time, more details, more information gets stored in your memory. Think about childhood summers, didn’t they seem to last forever?

Now think about when you drive somewhere new and you’re not familiar with the area. The return drive home always seems to take a much shorter amount of time (minus traffic of course).

That may be because the brain records new experiences — especially novel and exciting experiences — differently. It has been found that brains use more energy to represent a memory when the memory is novel.

Time for a test

NPR performed this test on people on the street. They asked  random people to close their eyes and (without counting) let them know when they thought one minute was up. The youngest people (early 20’s)  felt that one minute had ended in about 50 seconds. Older people (60+) thought it had ended in 90 seconds. Interesting.

Try this yourself. How long did it take for your minute to pass? Does it compare to their findings?

If an older person were to stand on a street corner and count the number of car horns they hear for one minute, more horns will be heard than expected. This is because they are actually counting the horns for about 90 seconds. So it will appear that more things are happening, it will appear that the world is going by faster.

Another theory is that when you are six years old, two years is a third of your life. When you’re 63, two years is one-thirty-second of your life. So it should naturally feel faster.

How quickly is time passing for you these days? How can we slow time?

In addition to the thought-provoking story, NPR produced this video to help illustrate time passing. Enjoy it.


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  • I've been working on a personal theory for a while, which is this: No matter how old or young you are when you die, you'll feel like you've led a complete life.

    I suppose it's a corollary to the NPR story.

    Nerd alert: This also ties into the whole JRR Tolkien/Middle Earth thing about the multi-hundred-year-old elves feeling like the lifetime of a human was barely more than the blink of an eye. Which I suppose just shows that Tolkien understood the principle as well as we do.

  • I was just having this conversation with someone else yesterday. It's amazing how, when I was younger, I would sit and stare at the clock in a classroom and time would move so incredibly slowly. Now I only wish I could spend an hour staring at a clock. My days get away from me quicker and quicker each day. That's a very cool experiment, BTW. I'll give it a try when I get home.

  • I guess he was on to something, eh?
    I'm not sure about your complete life theory though. There are many who
    won't do what they truly want to do, for fear more than anything else. I'd
    like to hope you're right though.

  • Let me know what you find Kenny. Thanks.

  • Dave, I know that life seemed to really speed up for me when I got out of college. My theory is that in our younger years our lives are pretty much wrapped up in school and school activities. Everything doing with school is measured. Which classes you have that day, how many hours are you carrying a week, how many semesters you have to go in college, etc.

    Time for us at that point is measured so we are more aware of it. Once you get out of school these measurements are now gone so we have nothing to base our time on. Interesting stuff, will be nice to see everyones takes in your comments.

  • Thanks Matt. Interesting theory.

  • Didn;t Roy Schneider promote the 60 second trick in Blue Thunder?

  • Oh! I need to see that again.