It Isn’t Just You: Our Relationship with Time Has Changed

By Jonathan Spira on 13 July 2020
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In another age, I was an outlier.  I worked largely from home, except for a few trips a month and the occasional foray into the office.  But that was then.

Today, in the age of the Coronavirus, everyone is, well, me.

What’s more, many of us largely feel that we live in a singular and unending day, one with endless Zoom meetings with somewhat scruffy looking and disheveled colleagues, countless discussions about strategy with your office mate while you take him out for a walk, and counting the hours until your touchless grocery delivery arrives at your door.

Witness Phil Connors, who in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” repeatedly awakens at 5:59 in the Cherry Tree Inn to Sonny & Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe” on the radio with the exact same DJ banter.  The date is always the same, February 2, Groundhog Day.

Phil, it turned out, is trapped in a time loop that no one else is aware of.

I feel that way, too.

Today, as we wander into our online meetings, we encounter others who are in the same boat.  “What day is today?” someone asks innocently.  My answer is always the same: It’s “Onesday.”

Although many lockdowns are ending and many shelter-at-home orders are coming to an end, the number of new coronavirus cases worldwide has skyrocketed.   The days of the week march on, but time seems to have stopped.  We live in the present, but our idea of “presence” has forever changed.

Presence, until recently, was largely defined by physical proximity, although my colleagues and I at Accura tend to define presence and being “in the office” as being visible on our IBM Sametime collaborative system and have so for years. People are starting to realize that people can be “present” by virtue of being a click away.  We aren’t quite at the point where the “Star Trek” transporter, a fictional teleportation device, would convert a person into an energy pattern and beam it to a target location, where it is reconverted into matter.

Since the day in March that the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, millions of people have been able to continue a semblance of their existence by logging into various systems from FaceTime to WhatsApp to Zoom, where they drank or dined with friends, watched a concert where the performers might have been at home in 15 countries, or hung out with friends.

Of course, we are merely emulating in some fashion what we used to do.  People held Passover seders on Zoom (with no word on how the Prophet Elijah would log in) and they attended synagogues and churches drive-in movie style.

It’s all there, but then again it isn’t.  We feel the start of the day, greet it with coffee and a croissant, and go through the motions.  Then, suddenly, it’s 5:59 a.m. again and “I Got You Babe” is pouring from the radio.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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