Do you often feel stressed and having no time?
That – despite of all the efficient methods you use – available time seems to diminish, rather than to increase?
You don’t remember the last time you really idled (and enjoyed it) or when you read a book for two hours without interruption?
You are often thinking: “Tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, after I finished this and that, I will take more time for friends, family and kids”?
You cannot remember the last day (or even the last half day) you spent entirely without internet or cell-phone?
If the answer to some of the above is YES, then you are not alone.
In fact you belong to the majority in western society.
You are suffering from uncontrolled acceleration.
In my opinion the main disease of our modern times.
Actually, yesterday I had a planned internet and phone free evening (at work it is hard to avoid), so I digged out from our library a nice little documentary film on the phenomena of the “accelerated society”:
“Speed – In Search of Lost Time” (link here, unfortunately German only).
A highly recommended film, where the author tries to find out why he is always stressed and tensed, what are the reasons for society’s acceleration and what are potential alternatives.
The film is available in German only, but I’ll try to extract some highlights:
- An interview with a man of Sueddeutsche Zeitung (a very well-respected German newspaper) who did live without internet, computer and cell-phone for 1/2 year, and his experiences while looking for fax-machines or public phone booths.
- Meeting with Douglas Tompkins, who is planting trees that need 1000 years to grow up. This guy founded the cloth labels Esprit and Northface, but then left the business and bought a huge piece of land in Chile to “deprive it of acceleration”.
- Interviewing one of the most celebrated business consultant lady (OMG, what a cold and dead person she is) on her “mission to make the world a better place by accelerating it”.
- Staying with mountain farmers that live entirely without watches, have no holidays and stuff thus seem very relaxed (the secret seems to be living by a rhythm instead of a tact. A tact (like the tact of the clock or the machine) is merciless and ever pressing. A rhythm instead is repeating as well, but it adapts to the nature or the body and allows for deviations.
- An interview with the Minister of Happiness in the state of Bhutan, where the growth of the country is measured by “Gross National Happiness” instead of GNP. This guy made the most clever comment in the film:“The key to happiness and deceleration is to forget about the notion of ‘time is money’ and replace it by the notion that ‘time is life’ “.Woodpecker couldn’t agree more.
- Meeting with the German Sociologist Prof. Hartmut Rosa (link in German) .
His core theory on the subject can be summarized as below:
- Stress is caused by having too many options in today’s world, thus being forced to make decisions all the time (and forgo millions of other opportunities at the same time)
- Acceleration is caused by the use of competitive logic to not only economics, but to all areas of modern life, e.g. to social contacts, friends, hobbies, family, religion. People fear very much to be “left behind” and thus do all to “stay in the game”. From a historical point of you this focus on competition was never the case before.
- A vicious circle is started:
“People feel stressed by the high tact of modern life” -> “They have little time” -> “They get inpatient” -> “They expect others to act quicker (e.g. the phone hotline, the computer startup, the teller in the supermarket, colleagues at work etc.) -> “Demand is generated for more accelerated technical or organisational solutions” -> “People feel even more stressed by the high tact of modern life”-> etc.
Unfortunately, the film does not really provide a more general solution, except for small tips (like testing out your internet/iPhone/blackberry addiction by internet-free days, saying “no” more often, follow a rhythm instead of a tact, stop spinning around yourself etc.) and a vague “everybody has to find out for himself”.
And actually it misses any hint at all at Downshifting!
Where downshifting at its core (at least in Woodpeckers definition) is a lot about deceleration and living in the here and now.
As well as it is a lot about breaking out from the vicious cycle of “staying in the game” and finding ways to organise life outside the competition postulate.
But apart from this little aspects missing (maybe they are saved for part two 😉 ), the film is a must-see for any German-speaking downshifting candidate!
Go to your local library and find out!
And please let me know any similar films you know in English or German!