Tick, Tick, Tick

Time by Eva Hoffman:

It's no longer just fast food restaurants and "democracy" that the United States is exporting it's also our anxiety about time. From how business is conducted to the fight to slow the aging process, our unhealthy attitudes are becoming the common thread that ties our flattening world together. As Hoffman writes in her new book Time an overview of the way humans experience, fight with, warp, and understand the concept Americans' insecurity with the ticking clock was in some ways born out of the opportunities for growth and expansion that did not exist in other parts of the world. We worked harder and competed with one another because there was a chance for upward mobility. Other nations are now taking our lead there are still cliches about the striking French and the siestaing Spanish, but citizens of other countries are taking on the longer work hours and the obsession with youth that has plagued the U.S. for generations.

Americans have always been a work-focused people. And despite the fact that this stresses us out immensely (Americans report feeling more stressed than citizens of other nations, and we also suffer from more heart disease and other stress-related health problems than others), we report feeling happiest when at work. In fact, if we had more free time, surveys suggest that the majority of us would fill it with more work. We have a very difficult time unplugging, and many of our technological advances have ensured that we don't have to. Cell phones, e-mail, laptops, jet travel, and hotels wired with wi-fi all allow the capability to be at work all the time, even on vacation. Part of it might be what Hoffman refers to as our quest for "big promotions, big money, big homes" and that fear that came with knowing that "if you didn't succeed in 'making it,' as the colloquial phrase had it, you had only yourself to blame."