What is the speed of time?

That’s it.  We are in 2020. A nice even number.

Or shall we say: “We are in 2020, already!”

On Twitter, people are dressing the list of what happened in the past decade: so many things! But what’s the plan for the next decade? More? Less?

It is no wonder to anyone how much we talk about time. “I don’t have the time”, “If I had the time”, “When I have time”. Time seems to slip through our fingers.

Time also makes people think. Hartmut Rosa, for example, is a sociologist and thinker who tries to articulate this acceleration of time. In addition to the acceleration, a de-synchronization between the biological time and the technological time is operating. Biological time here refers to nature’s cycles, natural human cycles too, in opposition to the technological time that refers to the time in the big cities: “New York, the city that never sleeps”, the economical time: “time is money”, the social time.

The notion of time and its speed, however, might still be different from one person to another, depending on the social background, the religion, the education, and simply the occupation and the living place in the world. Try to schedule a meeting with a Swiss, an Indian, and a Nigerian, I am not sure when it will start.

Not to mention space, where astronauts can see the Earth spinning multiple times in 24 hours, and where time is anyway going faster. And this, despite the fact that time is actually slowing down, as the Earth’s speed is decreasing.

However, for the same individual, there should be much variation on the surface of Earth, but time is definitively going very fast in Singapore.

Why so? Well, first because of the biological clock, with only two seasons: a rainy one and a less rainy one. Being used to the four seasons, and traveling a lot, it is possible to experience several winters and summers in one year. This phenomenon is amplified by the food in the supermarkets:

Chestnuts from Korea or Japan in October, oranges from China, in addition to the monsoon: feeling like winter.

Cherries and peaches from Australia in December: feeling like summer.

Mixing this with alternative trips to the North or South Hemisphere, the notion of season is getting dramatically blurred.

Also, things in Singapore do go very fast: many shops are open 24 h/7, a fleet of foreign workers are enrolled when it comes to destroy or build in no time, employees, students and pupils are working long hours, technology with apps, smartphones, instant messaging are everywhere.

Not to mention the multiculturality that makes Singapore so special: yesterday was New Year, tomorrow will be Chinese New Year. As a result, there are no so clear breaks in the year, except for the semester break from the University, that is built on a Western model. But the calendars of schools are different from the Universities.

However, in opposition to all this speed up, it is surprising that people are generally queuing patiently (although usually browsing their smartphones), walking slowly, and in particular standing in the escalators! (Not walking in the escalators is something really obscure to me).

I also learned recently from a colleague that people might say they are busy only to feel important and to seem busy: for a meeting at 10 am, they would not be available all morning…

With these considerations: who is buying those calendars we see in the shops? And more importantly: who is actually turning its pages, once you get one?

To think further: