Our age is the most impatient history has ever seen. Our choices and lifestyles reflect a desire to break down the gap between desire and gratification. We have no patience for building from scratch. We prefer stepping into pre-assembled rooms and getting our delivery within the hour.
We are more connected than ever before, or at least connected in a way we’ve never experienced before, which might at times run counter to our natural, biological condition. Our avatars connect while we remain disconnected, or if you prefer a less polemic phrase, our minds connect while our bodies stay apart. In the last 20 years, we’ve come up with an increasing number of ways to stay in touch mediated by tech, but we’ve hardly discovered anything new about being together in body as well as mind. While technology evolves, biology seems unchanging – and, for many today, dull to the point that we may think it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re offering free urban hugs, but people have been hugging each other freely, and perhaps more deeply, since the dawn of time.
We’ve built layers of simulacra, machines, wires and waves to fill the space between us and cajole us into believing that we’re sharing the same space, whatever ‘sharing’ and ‘space’ might mean. But as the space filled up and as it appears to be disappearing – instantanaousness is a dream becoming more true each day –, our experience of time hasn’t shifted. The dislocation of space has made room (forgive the pun) to an anxiety around the limitedness of time. We joke about it, as in FOMO, but deep down we feel disarmed at the sight of so much conquered space and unconquerable time. But what if time is not to be conquered, as our age might have it? What if time is, as the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca put it, ‘to be made’ for things that matter, in gratefulness and wakefulness, so that we may be led into the presence of things.