Saturday, 14 April 2018

Time warp

I have a very specific childhood memory of sitting in my living room watching the clock and realising that seconds, though the smallest unit of time I knew, were actually quite long.  The fact you are taught to say "Mississippi" between counts shows that it is a longer amount of time than you might expect.  And the days seemed so long back then.

My father taught me about relativity and how the only yardstick we could use to measure time against was how long we had been alive for.  To me, a child, a second was a much larger percentage of my life than it was my father's.  And I have noticed how much shorter a second feels the older I get.

Time has always interested me; from whether it exists at all to how our mood can change our perception of it.  But something new occurred to me recently.  I think, and yes, this is only a theory, that film and television have a big effect on our perception of time.  They are fundamentally story-telling mediums and aim to tell as much as possible without the extraneous detail that wouldn't move the story alone.  This is why we never see somebody go the bathroom unless it moves the story on or gives us some vital information about their character.

So we grow up watching people go from zero to hero in two hours.  Over the course six half hour episodes we watch two people meet and, by episode six, get married.  We watch people get stronger over a thirty second montage.  We see people change their lives around in two minutes.

And what does this do to us?  It makes us impatient.  We have seen time and time again, even in books, characters go from nothing to everything - unhappy to happy - in mere minutes.  And we, the suckers in real life, are expected to wait years and to work hard during them.

When I watch a film and we reach the tension point (the part of the narrative that needs to be resolved), I think to myself that soon it will be over.  I know the traditional arc of a story and I know that the tension will be resolved and, even if it isn't, I can go away and stop worrying about it.  But life isn't like that.  There is no time frame.  We expect there to be a time frame and so we put a time frame in ("Where do I see myself in five years?  What's my three year plan?") but this guarantees nothing.

I think film and television has changed what we expect of ourselves.  I think it has changed how we view time and the speed at which we expect to progress.

I guess the point of this blog post is just to tell you that, whatever path you are on, you're doing fine.  We are taught to rush - I have been taught to rush - but, as well as never truly know where we're going, we'll get there when we get there.

Carmen x

1 comment

  1. Hi Carmen that is so true. I never thought of movies having that kind of effect on me. I use to laugh at the fact that people would never eat of sleep in action movies.


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