Need for speed, or Faster! Faster!

There is famous episode in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass known as the Red Queen’s race. This incident is a perfect illustration of the ever-accelerating world we’re living in:

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Interestingly enough, what Lewis Carroll captured from an artistic approach as a writer, found its reflection in the academic world too. Thus, Hartmut Rosa, a professor of sociology and political science, distinguishes three categories of change in the tempo of modern social life. These are technological acceleration, evident in transportation, communication, and production; the acceleration of social change, reflected in cultural knowledge, social institutions, and personal relationships; and acceleration in the pace of life, which happens despite the expectation that technological change should increase an individual’s free time.

Indeed, the acceleration of time appears to be a characteristic feature of the post-modern world, with the “fast food” and “speed dating” becoming more and more common. Yes there is a paradox out there. While mechanical acceleration intended to create more time for an individual, a constant time shortage is growing. So the question is: how do we handle the inevitable change?

Well, the Red Queen does have the answer: “Run at least twice as fast”. One must constantly “move in order to move” or, as they say it: “Move it or lose it!”. This is neither good nor bad, but rather an embedded feature of our time that needs to be dealt with in order to grow and move forward. Another solution, of course, is to ignore the challenge and remain inert and passive. In the long run, however, this causes a high risk to be left behind.

So to be able not only to keep up the pace, but progress, some of the things we CAN do are:

– be open to learning new things

– “learn how to learn” quickly in the changing  environment

– use self-discipline as your personal tool to achieve success

On a final word, there is another paradox in human life that is worth mentioning. The more things we have to do, the more time we have. This applies only to those things that your REALLY want to do and consider as priorities. The Universe is wise and will always provide additional resources (time) when there is a burning need for that.


4 thoughts on “Need for speed, or Faster! Faster!

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