Why Time is a Social Construct

Psychologists and anthropologists debate how different cultures answer the question, “What time is it?”

(Illustration by Jeffrey Fisher)
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Levine feels that life will inevitably speed up in some countries, but that mental differences will linger. “You can find quotes throughout history of people saying that life is getting faster and looking back nostalgically on the slower, older days,” he says. “But whether in people’s reality things actually feel faster than they did, that’s a tough one to measure.”

Bluedorn believes that “people are just going to become more aware of temporal differences in different cultures.” In fact, he worries about what would be lost in a culturally synchronized world. Monochronic and polychronic perspectives both have their advantages, he argues. “Fast isn’t always best; nor is slow.”


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