If You're Complaining About the Lack of Light, at Least Get It Right

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The rage that has built up in your heart from the suddenly dark afternoons is understandable -- but before you go screaming into the Twitterverse, it might help if you were to get your facts straight. Message to the numerous tweeters who insist on getting it wrong (see our slideshow): this isn't Daylight Saving time -- it's standard time.

Whether people get it wrong or right, the time-switch hate is palpable, and perhaps even justified. Scientific American adds: "And changing back and forth to Daylight Saving Time twice a year seems to be bad for human health — from increased risk of heart attack to more mine accidents."

So who should we blame for this off-kilter week, for the shorter evenings, the disrupted sleep patterns, and the vitamin D withdrawal? Scientific American says blame the railroads and blame the golfers: 

The railroads were the first to set the time in the 19th century, coordinating distant clocks so that trains could run on theoretically precise timetables (this cut down on crashes.). You can also thank railroads for time zones—geographic swaths of the globe set to the same hour.

But it was evening-time activists like entomologist George Vernon Hudson and golfer William Willett who can be blamed for Daylight Saving Time. Noting that a little extra well-lit time on a balmy evening would be nicer than in the morning when everybody’s asleep anyway, the two independently proposed shifting clocks forward for the spring and summer. Governments soon seized upon the idea as a way to cut down on energy use — more sunlight in the evening means less coal-burned to provide artificial alternatives.

But the Chicago Tribune believes our time-switch has its roots in the fact that city dwellers and their and country cousins couldn't get along: 

Though the original arguments for daylight saving time centered around saving energy during wartime, it quickly became a pitched battle between urban lifestyle vs. rural realities. City office workers liked getting an extra hour of sunlight during the summer to enjoy the lakefront, attend a baseball game, go golfing or spend time with the family. But farmers argued they couldn't shift their work so easily. 

Whatever the reasoning behind it, let's hope that when we make the switch back to Standard next year at this time, the Twitterverse won't be quite so insane -- or, at least, so inaccurate.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.