Should people rethink the concept of time?

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It’s again that time of year when the clocks change, and many people are (rightly or wrongly) complaining about the system of Daylight Saving Time. While I find the concept annoying, and believe it to be a system that should be abolished, I’d like to discuss the concept of time and the importance of punctuality.

The structuring of time into hours and minutes is a relatively old concept with the earliest sundials dating back to around 3500BC, however there are people who regard time as an abstract, and are always late. This in turn creates a conflict with the people who are punctual.

An article from Art of Manliness explaining why punctuality is important says, “Being late is a form of stealing. That’s a tough truth, but it’s a truth nonetheless. When you make others wait for you, you rob minutes from them that they’ll never get back. Time they could have turned into money, or simply used for the things important to them. In coming to meet you at the agreed upon hour, they may have made sacrifices – woken up early, cut short their workout, told their kid they couldn’t read a story together – and your lateness negates those sacrifices. If you wouldn’t think of taking ten dollars from another man’s wallet, you shouldn’t think of stealing ten minutes from him either. Being punctual shows you value time yourself, and thus wouldn’t think of depriving others of this precious, but limited resource.”

This, of course, will likely not convince people to actually be punctual, and it may be a bit uncouth to tell the next person who arrives late to a meeting that he is a thief. There have been studies that attempt to find out why some people are late, and if there is anything they can do to learn to be on time.

Last year, Greg Savage wrote, “It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs. And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late. Rubbish. You are rude. And inconsiderate.”

While people who are chronically late are definitely inconsiderate and rude, is it really their fault? A study by Diana DeLonzor found a link between “chronic lateness and certain personality characteristics, including anxiety, low self-control and a tendency toward thrill-seeking.” She was able to identify seven different kinds of late people, and said that most people who are chronically late can fit into more than one of the categories.

In addition to determining why people are late, DeLonzor offered some advice on how people could become punctual. The most important of which is “change your thoughts, not just your behavior.”

While this applies to everyone who finds themselves chronically late, I feel it applies especially to lovers of liberty, who claim to believe in personal responsibility, yet are known for functioning on Libertarian Standard Time, which is “normal time” plus about 45 minutes. Remember: when you’re always late, you’re telling people that you don’t think their time is valuable, and that you are not a responsible adult.