How often do we hear or say, “Oh God where did the week go?” or “What? It has been a year already”. Perhaps, all of this is not because time is moving faster but because we are. The present times are defined by speed. The age-old adage of slow and steady winning the race no longer holds true in today’s world. With a low attention span and an even lower level of patience, ours is a generation that loves speed. Society has been sped up exponentially and it is becoming harder and harder to slow down. Moments pass by in the blink of an eye and we don’t even give a thought to whether things are moving in the right direction.

A typical day is marked by the enormous speed in our lives. Getting ready like a pro in the morning, rushing to work, eating quick meals, and then not getting enough sleep. All this passes us by in a bit of a blur. And these are considered to be the wonders of modern progress. We get swayed by brands that help us prepare meals faster. We have become used to quick informational access. We just love the idea of everything being available at a speed that was unimaginable two or three decades ago. In sports, we have shifted from one-day series to T20 formats. 

There are instances where we need to rush, maybe there is an appointment or we have an important deadline but most of the time, we don’t really need to. We often rush because of our self-imposed pressures and standards we set or because external factors like expectations of others or the work culture put enormous pressure on us to keep up. And this is how we get caught up and are unable to decide how much we want to do and at what pace.

Even if people are skeptical about speed, they still consider it an undeniable asset in achieving a better society. Our addiction to speed has made us measure our progress by how fast we are. Now it has become a barometer for success. When people move to cities, they start doing everything faster. The pace of life is even faster in economically developed countries and individualistic cultures. Japan and Western Europe are perfect examples of places where time knows no bounds. The way we are transitioning is the only way of life that the world demands. ‘Do it now’, ‘I want it now’ are a few of the most valued mantras in the present-day world.

As things changed, so did people’s expectations. With its roots deeply inherent in consumer satisfaction, speed is the ultimate boss in the digital world. Not to mention how irritating it is to see that buffering, we just want everything instantly, for instance, time taken for a website to load, applications to be opened and various other actions to be processed.  But the major reason why speed is so important in today’s digital world is that humans’ attention span has dropped. Studies conducted have shown that the average attention span of a human has dropped to a mere 4 seconds in the past decade and impatience and expectations have only grown.

Now let me ask you, do 3 seconds seem to be a long time? There exists a 3-second rule. Studies have shown that on average, it takes 3 seconds for a user to bounce back from a website. This means that we are living in a world where everything needs to operate at a sub-1-second time to be successful. It is true that it’s almost impossible to be successful if we aren’t hardworking, productive, and don’t deliver results. Efficiency and speed along with skills are pre-requisites for success in today’s fast-moving and constantly changing world. And it’s not the hardest-working people who are at the top. Studies have shown that success doesn’t come from only being competent and hard-working. You need to work smart and have superior strategies to get results.

Mario Andretti said, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough”. The new work culture considers people who do things fast as an asset for the society. A lazy person is looked down upon and negative connotations are attached with slow workers. Every organization prefers smart and fast workers. Quick movements are appreciated and are a necessity for progress. This is a fast-paced world, no one is waiting for you. Everyone is running to match up to the new levels. 

There are no exotic moments to stop and introspect. It took a pandemic for the world to stop and that too not for long. Moving ahead with speed is the essence of today’s world. Our fast-paced shift to online mode is a testimony to the speed of the present world. Also, at the beginning of the pandemic, the expectation that a vaccine would be available by the end of the year shows how far humans have come and how fast the world moves. Now things like telepathy don’t seem to be a distant dream anymore. 

We have become used to “fuite en avant” (or escape forward). We want things to happen instantaneously without actually living them. Though sometimes we really need to rush, now people are crossing that line of discomfort. The speed is self-destructive for society. The speed trap doesn’t even give us time to think about how much the world has sped up. The lines between work and home have blurred and have added unnecessary anxiety to our lives. And this unhealthy obsession is on a steep rise. We keep on asking “Why not? Why can’t I do this faster than this?”  

On one hand, speed has served us comfort, ease, and time-saving techniques as everything is possible with a swipe of our fingers. On the flip side, it has gifted us problems like stress, anxiety, mental health issues, and insomnia. Sleep is elusive. Taking naps means we’ll lag behind the world and won’t be able to keep up with today’s rapid-fire hyperactive pace. Just sitting quietly or watching a sunrise seems like a waste of time as opportunity costs involved are very high. The fast pace of life is also taking a toll on our interpersonal relationships as nobody can spare minutes to listen to others. Many of us are either constantly stressed, deeply exhausted or a combination of the two. We are now easily put out by things that never existed before and weren’t expected until now.

How about stepping aside from the rush and madness around us? Stopping in the moments and engaging all the senses towards enjoying life to the fullest might be the most productive thing we can do sometimes.

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