We are walking faster than we did a decade back. Studies have shown the rate has increased by 10 per cent. In Singapore, for example, the average walker goes from zero to 60 feet in 10 seconds – and even that seems slow by the standards seen at airports, train stations and in the rush to get to the burger stall at sporting events.
What will end civilisation isn’t some terrible bomb or biological misadventure, but the slow-moving queue.
Why are we all in such a hurry? This is one of those philosophical questions Plato failed to address – probably because he was in a rush to do other things and simply didn’t have the time. Perhaps that is the reason then. We are in a hurry because we don’t believe we have the time to stand in queues, smell the flowers or do a truckload of things we might otherwise do. Dawdling is as foreign to some people as Greek is to non-Greeks. The advice given by the wise: make haste slowly, has long been forgotten.
I mean, why would the vehicle behind me honk in that threatening way just because I have taken time off to write this column and the traffic light has turned green? To each his own is a wonderful maxim, and the dangerous-looking, well-muscled driver behind me should acknowledge this. His thing might be beating up people who hold up the traffic; mine is writing in it. Surely we can find a middle path? He could beat up the guy beside him, for example, while I drove away.
Queue breakers, airport rushers, fast walkers, rude answerers on the phone all are trying to tell us something. That their time is more valuable than ours, that they are conscious of having diminishing amounts of it even as they shoulder charge us; that one day we dawdlers might regret not joining their club. And what do they do with the few minutes they gain everyday? Spend it with the family? Write a poem or teach themselves to play the piano?
None of the above, sadly. They merely break more queues, rush through more airports, walk faster still and answer phones even more rudely. They have saved substantial amounts of time just to be able to do more of the same.
Move fast and break things, advices Mark Zuckerberg, for unless you are breaking stuff you are not moving fast enough. I search that sentence for signs of profundity and give up, defeated. Perhaps I need to chew over it. Or under it even. Take my time.
Only the truly (crazy, rushed, blessed, magnanimous, satisfied, demotic, hesitant, handsome … add your own adjective) are in a hurry. You read it hear first.
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