Why do we feel time too slow?

in StemSociallast year (edited)

High speed slow motion shot of a water balloon. pixabay

A few days ago, I finished all my stuff in one go. At that time, I had a meeting to attend at dusk. I was patiently waiting for the zoom link, but I feel I had all day waiting for it. I sometimes feel that time is slowing down when I have nothing to do. I don't know if it's boredom. It is not the first time I've experienced it. Have you experienced that time is stretch out and too slow? Is time slowing down, or is it too fast that we can't perceive correctly? I am curious why we feel the time is slowing down.

I asked some people if they have experienced it. They shared that sometimes they sense time is slowing down. They shared that they feel clocks are ticking too slow, days are stretch out, and some months seem to take forever. Many people feel the say way, but 2020 makes us fully aware of it.

There are two faces of time, as per Henri Bergson. The objective time is the time we see on our watches, calendars, and schedules. The la durée or lived time is how we felt, lived, and experienced time. The objective time is far useful than the other, but la durée gives us a hint on how we perceive time.

The time you spend at a market and paying bills, between 10 am to 11 am, is the same amount of time spend partying between 8 pm to 9 pm. What was the difference in both events is you feel the time is too short for having fun at a party as to queuing at the market. When we are having fun, it is like time in a hurry, but when we are in a line to pay bills or do chores, time so slow, and it's a drag.

Marc Wittman shares physical objects don't slow down, but it is how we experience the events that make it slower. When people are in danger, a near miss, or exposed to violence, people tend to experience these events like a slow-motion film. The passage of time depended on the circumstances we are in, as shared by Valtteria Arstilla. It seems to fly or slow down.

People who survived accidents recall that everything unfolds in slow motion. The phenomenology of these events doesn't point out how we can have these experiences. It may be caused by heightening sense and the brain's response to flight or fight. Dr. Arstilla added that whether time goes fast or slow, the feeling of slowing of time is a consequence of distorted phenomenology. He explains that the time slowing down is an overestimation of the duration of stimuli.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman explained that our brain time is subjective. He shared it using a simple experiment. Put a book in front of a mirror. Move your eyes back and forth between the book and the mirror. When your eyes shift from the book to the mirror, your eyes take time to move. Dr. Eagleman emphasizes the movement of our eyes is not perceived by us. It is because our brain re-cut it so that we are staring one frame at a time.

Our brains cut minor details so that we can perceive the event frame by frame. During violence and traumatic experience, our brain heightened the act of violence to some degree as if time froze. Temporal dilation causes these moments. Our brains take a lot of information from our senses to interpret what was happening. How we sense time is different from our taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch. We can't perceive time instantly through our brains.

Our brains devote less time processing familiar information. It gives us a sense that time is faster. When doing routines and tasks which the deadline is approaching, we feel the time is running out. We perceived time is slow when attending conventions or training. What I felt a few days ago when I had a lot of free time is unfamiliar to me; hence I am used to having a busy work schedule.

Our attention affects how we perceive time. When we measure how long an event lasts or our schedules and become aware of it, we sense time is too long. When you plan to go on a date or do a movie night with friends after work, you become attentive to how much time before calling it a day at work. Time is so stretch out and so slow as if it takes forever. When we are happy or having fun, we feel the time is less. When we are busy working on a task, it is as if time moves too fast.

Dr. Eaglemen elaborates that as we grow older, we think time speeds up. It is because we have familiarity with most things and events. The moment seems to last longer when our brains create a detailed memory out of it. That is why my summer childhood trips somehow take forever than the trips I took today. The more we are familiar with the world lesser information is encoded in our memory. We deem the time is too fast.

Brain electro tomography for active and passive tone oddball. biomedcentral

The experiment for the oddball effect explains why we perceive time in this manner. Participants watched the same images of a shoe and a flower. Most participants agreed they watched the flower image longer than the shoes. Each has the same amount of time. Our brains processed the expansion of time objectively that familiar pieces of information seem cut by our brain. The novelty of the flower image gives the brain new information to process, which makes time expands.

Our perception of time during childhood expands as if experiences take too long. Hence we are still learning, and life pretty exciting. When we grow older, we experience things like it going too quickly. The oddball theory holds some accuracy. I'll take two opposite events in my life: one is the fun travel and fun around the south in my locality; the other, the recent lockdowns during the pandemic.

If we focused on la durée instead of observed time, we could feel the strangeness during the lockdown in 2020. For many, time seems so slow, and everyone has to keep anxiety in check. Somewhat during the ease of lockdowns, we could sense time speed up a little bit. Our perception of time will root in how we perpetually process our life events. The minutes out when we are having fun like exploring a foreign land or doing cliff diving. But there are truths to time flies when you're having fun. Sometimes you would ask where did the time go after having a great evening with friends or family.

Time does not slow down, but how we experience and perceived time varies to our attention and experience. The more attention we put into time schedules or time itself, the slower the time is. If you want to make time at work faster, you should indulge more to work stuff. When you want to make the most out of an event, you should make it a new experience. Einstein is correct. Time is relative. Our perception of time is proportionate to our attention on it. Why did you feel time so slow? Because you're putting too much attention into it.


  1. A theory that can help explain why time seems to move slowly
  2. The Matrix Effect: When Time Slows Down
  3. Time slows down during accidents
  4. Distortions of Subjective Time Perception Within and Across Sense
  5. The Science of Time Perception: Stop It Slipping Away by Doing New Things
  6. This Is Why Time Sometimes Seems Slower
  7. The Possibilian: What a brush with death taught David Eagleman about the mysteries of time and the brain.

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