Speed and the search for meaning

I was in one of my very favorite stores (yes, a bookstore) and a title intrigued me – The Age of Speed: Learning to Thrive in a More-Faster-Now World by Vince Poscente. It was a small book – one that looked like I could speed through rather quickly – probably all part of the marketing plan for the book!

Some interesting stuff from the book that you can use in conversation:

  • Blackberries (or Crackberries as the author calls them) “have become the unofficial mascot of the Age of Speed, but mind your addiction. Research revealed that allowing frequent email interruptions causes a drop in performance equivalent to losing ten IQ points – two and-a-half times the drop seen after smoking pot.”
  • “Dopamine is also linked to addictions, including addictions to sex, drugs, and even technology. Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey thinks it’s at play in our compulsive use of cell phones, computers, and PDA’s. In an interview with Time magazine, he said that if we could measure brain activity when responding to interruptions, such as incoming calls or emails, ‘we would probably find that the brain is pumping out little shots of dopamine to give us a buzz.’”
  • 23% of Americans say they lose patience within five minutes of waiting in line.
  • 55% of workers said they opened incoming email almost immediately, regardless of how busy they were.

One of the main points that Poscente is making is that our North American progress has made our time more valuable. Our income has tripled since 1955, but our life expectancy has not kept pace – only going up by 10%. Therefore with much more life available for the living and less time to do it we try to cram it all in – like greedy kids after a candy toss from a parade float.

The author points out: “…a 2006 poll revealed that only 26% of people claiming to be time starved would choose having fewer things to do over having more time to do all the things they currently do. We want as much out of life as we can get.” We simply have more options, yet the same 24 hours in a day. We fear “opportunity cost” – the feeling of loss we get on a beautiful, sunny, mild day when we cannot simultaneously bike, kayak, lay in a hammock reading, go to the beach, or attend a sporting event or art fair. We want it all because we desire more quality in our lives – more meaning – more living in life.

If Jesus has come to give us a more abundant life is this what he had in mind?

How can we help our youth discern what is really important?


Filed under Biblical worldview, book, use of time

2 responses to “Speed and the search for meaning

  1. I think this is really true. I almost didn’t have time to read this article, but decided to speed read it. I think that we (those of us who lived “Pre-cell-phone/blackberry age”still have a sense of the “quality” of life and that it’s ok to not answer the email immediately and just continue on that walk in the forest taking in the fall colours. Work will still be there tomorrow. But I think our youth who have grown up in the “era” need to be challenged to question and discern. They need to be encouraged to “stop and look at the daisies” at times, or they will be caught up in the continous spiral. God gave us this world to take care of and enjoy.

  2. This blog reminds me a line from a recent Banner article (“Be Still…” by Nick Overduin): “Don’t just do something, stand there.” Good advice. First reflect, then act. Maybe life is more like an archery contest, not a race. Meaning, it’s accuracy, not speed. (It’s how many times you hit the target, not how many times you shoot.)

    Cultivating reflection is a key part of Christian education and a key part of students thoughtfully applying a biblical perspective to what they study—something which takes time.

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