Ten Things to Change: A Quarter-life Review of Autonomy

May 18, 2013 in Personal Thoughts

I recently stumbled across a thread on AskReddit — surely, just the most recent of many — collecting the most depressing scientific discoveries of recent history. While many of the comments that followed proved thought-provoking (“We were born too late to explore the world, and too early to explore space”), only one stood out in my memory: at twenty years old, the average person will have experienced half of his life at the rate he experiences it. 

This is, of course, just a paraphrasing of the hotly-debated Theory of Logarithmic Time Perception. This theory suggests, as most would agree, that we perceive time to move more quickly with increasing age. The time between my twentieth and twenty-first birthdays seemed a mere blip compared to the slow crawl between my fifth and sixth.

Though I haven’t bothered to delve into the (depressing, I expect) psychology behind this effect, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it to be due to both biological and structural factors. By “structural factors”, I mean those things which make time appear to pass more quickly which are merely correlated with age, not caused by aging. Examples of these could be a monotonous morning and evening commute, a repetitive work environment, or an increasingly cyclical social life made up of Taco Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, Casual Fridays, and so on.

After reading that one AskReddit comment, the arrival of my twenty-first birthday brought with it much less excitement over my new alcohol purchasing rights than it did nostalgia for those birthdays past. It reminded me of how, as a somewhat younger man, I could spend hours upon hours sitting in my room dreaming of space exploration, exploring new thoughts through books and lectures, writing everything from technical papers to poetry, and above all else, coherently organizing my thoughts into a vision of my place in the world around me.  As I have aged, these pleasures have slipped away from me, and my life outside of work is now occupied by noise and distraction.

Having lost these abilities, I feel out of control of my life and detuned from who I am — a sentiment shared by many others at this point in their lives. Rather than flail helplessly in this world of perpetual distraction, I’m going to try something bolder: an attempt to re-establish a more focused self  through the abstention from the ten structural factors I think most greatly contribute to this problem in me. The next ten posts, then, will be dedicated to explaining my relationship with and justifying my abstention from each of the following:

  1.  Caffeine addiction
  2. Alcohol use
  3. Facebook addiction
  4. Smartphone addiction
  5. Attending “obligation” social events
  6. High-life dating addiction
  7. Consumption of unhealthy food
  8. Lethargia addiction
  9. Rap/pop music addiction
  10. News/Link Aggregation addiction

Indeed, the creation of this site was in preparation for #3, as it is my intent to move away from a dynamic Facebook environment (which enables autonomy) to a completely static page hosted here (which requires thoughtful edits).

I welcome your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.