This post is a bit ridiculous because there aren’t really any actual answers. But it was on my mind, and frankly, what is the use of having my own blog if I cannot word vomit whenever I feel like it? 🤔

Now, this is based on nothing concrete, just a nagging feeling that I have had since I started reading again in earnest, and which has been exacerbated by the copious amounts of time I spend obsessing about a certain television show featuring post-apocalyptic earth and space. And I can’t help but wonder if all our reliance on books, movies, television, and music makes time go by significantly faster than it used to.

But before I talk about any of that, here are some things impacting this super unscientific thought process:
1. Older people claiming that time goes faster as we age.
2. The massive increase in the production and consumption of media since its inception.

I don’t know about you guys, but the elderly are always telling me (and by “always” I mean my grandparents have said) that time seems to speed up the older we get. So is this just… that effect? Maybe since I am getting older, time is going by faster? The second part of it is that maybe since we have so many options, we’re less bored, therefore time speeds up? We’ll look at that first!

If you are older, like, pre-internet, you probably remember some really boring afternoons as a teen. Nothing was on TV, there was no Netflix, movie rentals involved a car trip, getting a new book to read involved either the bookstore or the library, and there was no online to waste time playing with. Connecting with friends often involved at the minimum a phone call (which was probably long distance, if your friends lived all over the area like mine did), or again, a car ride. A lot of times, there was just not a ton to do. 

Now, when I am bored, there are so many things to do! I can binge a show (or The 100, let’s be real) on Netflix. I can read any book I want in seconds with my Kindle, and if I just want to waste time, I can read useless articles, play on social media, talk to friends who are anywhere, in any time zone. A lot has changed in a pretty short time span. I personally got internet in 1998, so in less than 20 years, entertainment has been wholly revolutionized.

So is it that endless, boring days that once seemed to slowly tick by are now replaced with filling our time with all kinds of things? Books, shows, and sure, mostly useless procrastination? I don’t know, but I do know I’m never just sitting on my bed with nothing to do anymore.

I am so damn guilty of this. Think about it- your favorite book has a sequel coming out, and you’re giddy excited for it to be next year. Your favorite show is on hiatus for eight freaking months and you’re selling your soul for it to be 2018 (this is not at all something I am actually doing at the moment 😉 ). You hear of a new movie in a franchise you love, but it hasn’t even started filming, so you’re counting the minutes until it releases.

Are we too excited for what comes next to see the value in what is happening today? For me, I know that I do this, no question. I try not to, but when you’re left with a cliffhanger and don’t know how to function… well, you know how it is. That isn’t to say that we aren’t living our lives in the meantime, but I certainly know that I have wished for future dates to hurry up and get here. Plus, with the world in turmoil, it makes wishing away the next 3.5 years seem far more appealing.

If you are anything like me, you probably have a TBR of 1,000+ books. For a lot of us, that’s even a conservative number. This ties into the first point, but it’s also a bit of a “I will never have enough time” feeling. Because as we read one book, we add five to the pile, ensuring that we’ll never, ever run out of stuff to want to read. And of course this works with other media, too. My Netflix “to-watch” list is out of hand, certainly in large part to the aforementioned non-stop The 100 bingeing. But still- think about all the movies you’ve said you wanted to watch some day, shows you wanted to try, plays or musicals you wanted to see, etc. It could go on quite literally forever.

Because the truth is, there will always be more books and media than we can consume. This is a good thing; it makes for choices. But it also makes us feel like we have to rush through one book to get to the next. Finish one season of a television show in a day to get to the following one. It’s like the Goodreads Challenge Effect™, where we rush to finish something just to be able to say it’s done. And certainly, that makes time go by awfully quickly.

Literally nothing. Sorry. If you were hoping for some profound declaration at the end of this, you’ve come to the wrong place. I don’t know if any of this is legit, but I did want to know if anyone else has felt the same way!

Honestly, I like it better this way- I’d rather be overwhelmed with sources of media that be sitting in my room staring at the wall. Though I do wish I gave myself a bit more time to do nothing if I really want to. It’s a balance, and I assume that it’s process to find it.

So, what say you? Do you think our bookish (and otherwise media-infused) lifestyle makes time go by more quickly? Or am I just old? 

Posted June 14, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 23 Comments


23 responses to “Do Books (and Media) Make Time Fly?

  1. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but I’ve read somewhere before that time feels like goes faster as we get older because our brain become more active. When it become more active, we have lots on our mind and lots to do, that in a sense, we don’t feel the time passing at all 😀 I think this is the case with books and media, when we are reading/watching something we enjoyed, time flies because our brain really focused and occupied with that! 😀 Great post Shannon!

  2. Sam

    Reading totally fills in the gaps for me and has surpassed TV as my filler. I used to love watching TV, but once I left teaching, I realized it was mostly background noise. I also grew frustrated with all the shows being axed without giving me closure. This happens a lot less with books, so I can trust them more. I am older, so I don’t feel the need to rush, I am not of the instant gratification generation. I also don’t have my phone in my hand 24/7. I think I have a balanced life with media. Great topic. Lots to think about here.
    Sam @ WLABB

  3. I think it makes it go by more quickly because we spend less time bored. I know I do, because whenever I’m not doing anything I immediately defer to reading, even if for only a few minutes. It’s fun. And of course, the never ending TBR comes into play like you mentioned. But, when I look back on all I’ve managed to read and do, in hindsight it makes time feel slow? Because it must have been, if I had the time to do all those things! It’s a weird paradox, but it’s how I feel 😛

  4. I’m like you. I’d rather have a huge TBR and the Internet than sit around being bored. I do feel like time is going faster as I get older. I have no idea if that has to do with media because I’ve been Internet-obsessed since I was about 13. I don’t really know what life is like without the Internet. It’s an interesting thing to think about, though.

  5. Kel

    I usually find each day passes slowly, but when I look back the months/years have flow by (especially with school/work). I like the sense of productivity and accomplishment that comes with finishing a book or anything else on my to-do list, but I try not to get so wrapped up in it that I don’t take a break or reread an old favorite or go outside.

    I think it really is all about balance. Sometimes I need a chill day of doing nothing (e.g., Netflix), but I usually hate when I look up from the screen and realize I’ve spent hours doing/accomplishing nothing. Which is really easy to do with all the media available. I didn’t have internet for a long while as a kid, but I don’t remember often being bored. I had school, after-school cartoons, weekly visits to the library and lots of playing outside. I guess maybe it’s more about getting out of that rushed “must do all the things” mindset and, as the old line goes, stopping to smell the roses? (And maybe a quality thing too? Would you rather read 3 meh books in 3 hours or one really good book you enjoy, even if it’s a reread?) Cool thoughts, Shannon!

  6. I read somewhere that time feels like it’s going by faster because as you get older it becomes a smaller fraction of our lives. Like one year feels really long to a 5 year old because that’s 1/5 of their life, but if you’re 20 it’s only 1/20 in comparison. Personally I feel like our responsibilities play a big role in this, too. As a kid I never felt rushed to do all these things because I had so much free time to do it, but now I’m thinking about everything I have to do and where I can squeeze in some time for leisure and it feels like everything is going by way too fast and there’s so much media like you said that I want to consume. I graduated recently and don’t have a job so I finally have some time to relax and watch Netflix and read and it feels like time has really slowed down.

  7. Hmm I don’t think my audiobook makes my commute go by any faster most days lol, but it does provide a nice distraction from stress. I think time does seem to go by faster as we age. I just blinked and have been married for 10 years; wha?

  8. I definitely think books and media make time go faster! I think it is largely because of the whole ‘never being bored’ thing, because there is literally endless things out there to read and watch and just generally consume…I mean, I can go on twitter or Facebook and before I know it an hour is gone, and I’m still just scrolling aimlessly! And there are so many things I want to read and watch and the list just keeps growing, so in a sense it always seems like there isn’t enough time to get to them all.
    It possibly is an effect just exacerbated by getting older though, because I definitely feel like the years go by so much quicker these days. I think there is that sense as an adult of there never being enough time in the day to do everything you have to do, so the time goes by quicker than when you were a little kid with no responsibilities (plus now I have Twitter to waste all my time on!).
    Great post! 🙂

  9. I think both? Like media does make time go faster but you’re also old. HAHAHAA. JUST KIDDING. I’M SORRY SHANNON, I’M THE WORST AND MOST HORRIBLE WHY DO YOU KEEP ME. *buries self* But truly!! Years go faster for me too now (*shrieks because does not want to be 23*) and I think, for adults, it’s like a control thing too? We control our days, but as kids we didn’t, and so now we know how much to pack in and all that etc. etc. And I think we’re more conscious of time and how long things take too.

    But agreed: I would rather have time “go faster” and have media than be staring at a wall and prolonging my days. Like what’s the point of that?! I enjoy collecting information and I love thinking about things. I know a lot of people view media as a negative thing that rots your brain (SORRY MUM BUT YOU’RE WRONG) but the thrill of knowledge and connecting with likeminded people is awesome. Excuse me I think I just fell into a Ravenclaw and can’t get up.

  10. I had to laugh at “literally nothing” lol. But I like that we have so many choices! And I don’t mind that it makes time go faster since I’m enjoying that time and getting to experience and empathize with the lives of others (even if they’re fictional) while doing so.

  11. You know this is a great question, and I think maybe it does? Sometimes? I do think time goes by faster, or at least the perception of that is there, but I kind of think Lynn is right that when you’re a kid with no responsibilities it does seem slower. Summer used to last forever when I was a kid! Every day was wide open and I didn’t spend 5 days a week pining for the 2 day weekend lol. Great point though too about pre -Internet. I remember wanting to visit this girl (I’m not sure it was dating?) I had met and she lived in a city about 45 mins away- it was all involved in getting a ride there, a ride back, dealing with the parentals, whereas now you’d just text the person probably. And I DO think boredom has disappeared because Internet, Netflix, everything.

    And I do think sometimes I could savor a book more if I wasn’t so damn anxious to get on to the next one lol.

    Also that Queen GIF is the best and now I want to listen to that song on loop for like an hour.

  12. This discussion made me kind of panic, I have to say. I’m troubled by the thought that time is going by faster because we have more options to spend it doing things that distract us. I guess it’s not really fair to think that the internet just helps us spent our time more easily. There’s also this exchange of ideas, from books and movies and shows, songs, whatever. In a way, the moments when you’re alone and doing nothing can be enhanced by what you do when you’re busy. (I think? I think so. Yeah. I don’t know. *shrinks*).

    Dude, the things that I am looking forward to in terms of media give me hope. Depression just makes everything seem grim, and it’s the “little” things that help me keep going. So, if you’re excited about stuff, I say, GO FOR IT. I will join you.

  13. I think books and media certainly keep us entertained, like you said, I think time drags when you’re bored and there’s nothing to do. I have a feeling that it’s natural for life to feel as though it goes quicker as we get older, though; when we’re 4, for example, a year is a whole quarter of our life so far, it feels like an age, whereas the older we get the less amount of time a year takes up in our lives as a whole so it seems to pass by quicker. Does that make sense? I feel like I didn’t explain myself very well. 😐 I am definitely guilty of wishing my life away, though! I need to get better at being in the moment.

  14. Well I certainly agree that time seems to fly by. As a kid the time between the start of school and Christmas break took forever. And the entire term was like an eternity. And now it seems like I blink and an entire month has gone by. But for me, I don’t think media plays much of a part in that. I don’t watch TV so there are no days/weeks lost to binge-watching show. And, maybe odd for a blogger to say, but I also try to be conscious to “unplug” as much as possible. Because the internet is a total time suck and there aren’t too many cases when I’ve spent hours online then walked away thinking, “Wow, that was totally the best use of my time and what I saw/read left me feeling good and uplifted.” Uh, no. I just think that, as an adult, our lives are naturally busier. We have to be the ones to “take care of it all.” Even during down time we are thinking about what bill needs to be paid, the dentist appointment we need to schedule, whether the grill will last another season, what was the weird sound the washer made and do I need to call a repairman, and on and on it goes. That’s where the time goes… for me, anyway. Just thinking about it all is exhausting. I’m going to go lay down now.

  15. shooting

    I’ve been on the internet for years now, but I still remember growing up and just running around outside. haha There is definitely way more to do and experience these days – at least at a faster pace, so I think your theory has some merit. I was in a psychology class in college though and my professor mentioned that summers tend to go faster when you’re older than when you were younger because you’ve experienced so many of them. Everything seems slower when you’re younger, because it’s still a bit of a novelty. I think that makes sense.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

  16. Grace Osas @ Somewhat Reserved

    I agree that books and technology are helping time speed up. And since I’m also learning languages, time speeds up even faster!

  17. Isn’t the time going faster thing as we get older to do with the fact time is relative? So when you’re younger days seem longer as you’ve experienced less time or some crap? I’d have to Google to really explain it but that’s why I thought it felt time goes faster as we get older.

    Anyway, I am totally with you that we wish our lives away waiting for stuff to come. I mean, I wish my week away as I count down to the weekend. I wish my day away counting down til the end of the working day. It’s difficult not to when you’re looking forward to something. And there is way too much stuff available sometimes so I find myself doing nothing as I can’t make a decision on what to read or watch. I will never watch everything on my Netflix watch list or read all the books on my TBR but it’s nice to keep adding them. I know when I was younger I’d resort to rereads and rewatching stuff as I had a lot less books and movies to watch but I kind of miss the fact I had less choice. I am a terrible decision maker so too many options leave me making no decision. That being said, the ease with which I can get stuff is kind of brilliant so I won’t complain too much about stuff being there at a touch of a button. My days may be a blur and I may never have enough hours in the day, but I do love convenience so I will embrace it.

  18. I do feel like life is flying by a little faster now that I’m older haha. I think book reading always makes time fly by especially at night when I say I’m only going to read one more chapter. And I definitely waste a lot of time reddit…and yes the struggle of wishing it’s the future already because sequels and shows.
    Great discussion, Shannon!

  19. I wrote a similar(ish) post like this about the benefits of book blogging—I literally NEVER feel bored because I can always either read or blog or comment or reply or …
    And, yes, Netflix can easily fill in any gaps if I feel a hint of boredom or don’t feel like doing blog stuff. I can fill any and all free time EASILY!

  20. Boredom is no longer an issue, but there is a school of thought that this is not good, since being bored gives rise to creativity, whereas now we can all just kill hours online. I see this with my kids for sure. I also think time goes faster as you age because your frame of reference changes. One year is 25% of a four year old’s life, but a mere blip in my life! Also, kids change significantly over time–new shoe size, new grade, new skills–whereas for adults it all kind of blurs together, because there aren’t the same number of milestones.

    That being said, I just spent two hours online doing not very much!

  21. Word vomit away, my friend. I get what you mean about always having something on hand to keep us occupied. I always find that if I’m bored or have nothing to do I just surf aimlessly for hours online. I have picked up on this habit of mine and I do think I use it as a way of filling the void or as a distraction when I’m stressed or in my “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life” days, which was basically all last month for me.
    When it comes to books I try to savour the journey as much as I can. It’s why I read more physical books because I tend to not binge read it in one sitting, like I tend to do with an ebook.
    At the moment I just feel like I’m daydreaming the days away haha.

  22. Wow there was no strong conclusion here whatsoever.

    I like to spend all my time on social media. Because I’m bored. But I never do anything on social media. I just lurk. And then I hate when there is no new content because that just means I have to a) wait or b) follow more people, which I’m too lazy to do. And of course. I’m in such a weird book reading mood right now, so usually I don’t read books to pass the time. Whoops

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