Speed Kills

A series of articles exploring the global consumer that is the human animal

Take a minute to read this article. Close the open tabs with Facebook, BBC News and Email pages next to the tab containing this one. Turn off the music on your ITunes or Windows Media Player, turn off your phone, close your door and do something. Just one thing. Read.

Sounds like a strange request, right?

Life has become so fast paced, we rarely stop to wonder what life was like without multiple internet tabs, surround sound music and instantaneous connections with people across the globe. Before the reader starts to groan and label this as a nihilistic work condemning the modern age, and advocating a return to horses and wells with water, let me step in. We need all this. The fast-paced buzz of human activity increasing prosperity and happiness year on year. Communication like nothing we have seen before. News coverage of events even before they happen. We are more knowledgeable, more skilled and happier than we have ever been before. But are old-world standards all that outdated?

Look at cooking. When was the last time that two hours in the evening was set aside to prepare a meal, eat it, and digest without doing anything else? The advent of the 1950’s TV dinner was viewed as the fatwa of family unity, constrainer of conversation and ultimately the end of mealtime life as known. Yet today, there is rarely a time where we do not view food as simply an annoying necessity, to be coupled with another activity in order to save time and move on to more important tasks. Commuter trains are full to the rafters with suited and booted business people with their Starbuck’s coffees and Cornish Pasties from the Kings Cross refreshment stand. The hour’s commute on the train is never used to watch the morning countryside whiz by, notice the scenery that exists outside of your office. Instead, the morning paper, early emails and meagre nutrients that you are stuffing down make up the desire to make the time go as fast as possible.

Remember laughing at that car cruising at a snail’s-pace of 65mph along the slow lane of the motorway, glimpsing their faces before shooting by at 150mph? Sure, they’re gonna arrive 90 seconds later than you, and yes they haven’t had the urge to see their petrol consumption dip around 10mpg. But they have made more of their time, taken the little extra to relax, whilst you arrive pumped, the veins in your head being worn thin by the high-speed road rage encountered living in the fast lane.

And that is basically the idea of life. The motorway fast lane gets you where you want, and is useful when in a hurry. Neglect the other two lanes, and time will become blurred. Taking the time to learn and hone skills and knowledge in a particular subject area are lost talents; now everyone is versed in speed-reading, I.T skills, drinking with one hand whilst typing with another.

So slow down.

As 99% of you will still have all those tabs open, phones on and music playing. And this article requires your 100% attention.

About the author

Christopher M. Watson

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Chris read English Literature and Language at Winchester, and is currently a Recruitment Consultant in Brighton. Previous publication experience includes co-founding and editing the University newspaper from 2009, and as Foreign Affairs Editor for the Evans Review in 2012.