Walking the line

A study found in 2007 that people are walking 10% faster than a decade before.

A secret analysis1 of pedestrians in more than 30 cities around the world, including London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, revealed that the average pedestrian now speeds along at almost 6 km/h (3.5mph).

Now more than 10 years after that study it’s safe to say that the trend has no signs of slowing down.

“Experts say the stresses and strains of modern day life, such as long working hours, coupled with growing reliance on mobile phones, email and fast food, mean we have simply forgotten how to slow down.” writes Fiona MacRae in a Daily Mail article. We have convenience at our every fingertip but this has brought with it paranoia and impatience, attention deficits and a greater need for instant gratification.

Industrialism and the rise of Capitalism
One of capitalism’s most prolonged myths is that it has reduced human toil. Before capitalism2, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow and the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they were rich in leisure time at their disposal.

Time poverty
Today people see their time in terms of money3. People are getting paid more to work longer hours and spending time working seems more sensible. Leisure time becomes stressful because they feel that they are wasting their time and should be doing something constructive that can make them earn more money.

Even though people are earning more money, they cannot earn more time, thus the possibilities to earn more money are infinite but time is limited. Time as a finite, non-renewable resource becomes very valuable.

Leisure time would therefore feel less relaxing particularly for those who seemed best placed to enjoy it all. Isn’t it ironic?

Netflix and chill
The internet and traditional media offers endless possibilities when it comes to entertainment. When there are endless ways to fill one’s time with movies and bingeworthy television series it’s only natural to crave more of it.

People visit websites less often if they are more than 250 milliseconds slower than a close competitor according to research from Google.

More than a fifth of internet users will abandon an online video if it takes longer than five seconds to load.

This just goes to show how much we value our time.

How now brown cow?

How do we become human again? Do things that don’t involve technology. Exercise – without your phone! Go for a hike where there is no cellphone coverage. Take up a hobby that involves creativity and using your hands. Go out socialising and leave the phone at home. Run a race. When you do these things time is as it should be. An hour feels like an hour should be. You will use your time wisely and have something to show for it.


  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-452046/Pace-life-speeds-study-reveals-walking-faster-ever.html#ixzz4gqeImfMs
  2. http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_workweek.html
  3. http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21636612-time-poverty-problem-partly-perception-and-partly-distribution-why

Image: © City Rush by Christopher Burns. New York, USA.

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