Prove your humanity

2019 in a (very) limited nutshell

I don’t know about you, but 2019 flew by! So, to call back all we’ve been through, we collated some of the most significant events of the year.

America opened the year with the most diverse class of lawmakers in history, making up the 116th congress—with more women and people of colour than ever. The world was also introduced to Marie Kondo on Netflix, paving the way for some wholesome memes. In February, singer R. Kelly was arrested after turning himself in. March saw the Christchurch mosque shootings which claimed the lives of 51 people. In April, the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral was aflame, we got the first ever photo of a black hole and girl-band Blackpink performed at Coachella, making K-pop history.

In May, we  finally discovered who got to sit on The Iron Throne in the Game of Thrones finale. In June, Jay-Z was named the world’s first billionaire rapper by Forbes magazine. July, saw the revolutionary change of Instagram removing the total number of likes in Australia. In August, there was a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, prompting Walmart to stop selling handguns and some ammunition, as well as asking customers to not openly carry firearms in September.

In October, Uluru was finally, permanently closed to climbing by the public. November saw the South Africa Springboks defeat the England national rugby union team in the Rugby Union World Cup. And finally, in December, Finland makes headlines by electing Sanna Marin, the youngest prime minister at 34 years old.

And this all happened in 365 days.

What’s going on?

Lately, it seems to take me 0.03 seconds to go from “How is it Monday already” to “TGIF”. My worst fear is that I’ll blink and be 40.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being 40. I just want to live a fulfilled and productive life before I get there, and the troubling thing is that it seems like some days I’m just going through the motions. With this mindset, before I know it, the year is almost over! So, let’s change that this year.

I’m sure most of us remember being kids and time seeming to be super sloooowwww. What does this mean? Does time actually move faster the older we get? Well, as it turns out, it’s not all in your head—Science has some theories.

Mind time vs real time

Mind time and real time are two different things. Although, one could spend hours wondering whether time even exists, or if it’s just a social construct designed to make some people’s lives easier. But that’s an issue for another time (see what I did there?).  In any case, what I mean by real time is ‘clock’ time, the chronological passing of hours, days, months and years on clocks and calendars—a steady and measurable phenomenon. But in addition to that, we have our own perception of time. Something that is constantly shifting and changing, depending on our age, how rested we are and what activities we are doing (hence the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’).

A 2005 study involved asking people “How fast did the last ten years pass for you?”—something of a relevant question now, considering we just finished the decade. Interestingly, they found that the older you were, the faster time seemed to pass, that is until those being surveyed reached their 50s. After that point (between the 50–90 years of age) the speed of passing time seemed to plateau. But why would  this be? The study authors, Wittman and Lehnhoff, suggested something called time pressure. Between the ages of 16 and 50, we are constantly under pressure to make important, often life-changing decisions. For example, at 17 years old you might have to make a decision on what you want to do after high school, while at 40 you may be worrying about having children.

Many of us also lose time in various ways. Have you ever said ‘one more episode and end up binging the whole season and, before you know it, see the sun rising again? Or maybe you said you would start a particular year-long project and that one year turned into three? Whether you’re not sticking to the plan or you’re just procrastinating, things usually take longer than you expect. This phenomenon is known as Hofstadters Law. When we pass deadlines and finish projects much later than anticipated, we feel like we’ve lost time, contributing to the sense that time is speeding up.

Another theory, is that there is a change in our internal body clocks and the slowing down of our metabolism as we age, matching the slowing of our heartbeat and breathing. Children tend to have biological pacemakers that beat more quickly in a fixed period of time.

A study published last year in the journal European Review, found that the thing making time appear to speed up is also responsible for the detailed memories many people have from their childhood. This is due to the reduced speed at which images are processed by your brain as you age. But ok, how does slower image processing make time go faster? It seems that as you age, you process information in real time as opposed to the lightning speed of when you were younger, and iit is exactly that which makes time appear to speed up.

Another theory follows the fact that as a child, everything is new, and each age brings many “firsts”, making your brain constantly process and store these experiences in its memory bank at a rapid pace. Whether its learning to play, attending the first day of school, making your first friend, learning to read, or learning drive, new experiences all seem to make time slow down. As adults, our lives become stuck in routine and we become familiar with our surroundings, so we typically experience fewer ‘new’ moments and have less need of this ‘rapid pace memory creation’.

The question now is, how can we slow down mind time? It seems we can do this only by keeping our brains active, learning new things and having new experiences at every age—making time appear to slow down.

There are 365 days in a year and no matter how fast or slow you think time is moving, it is merely your own perception. In fact, it’s actually super cool that we have the ability to create our own reality by feeding our brain new information and experiences. You have 365 new opportunities ahead of you, and a whole decade to explore, so, learn that new language, travel to that new country, go sky diving, meet new people, put yourself out there. Consider this the sign you never knew you needed!