Waste of Time

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I’m thinking about rolling back my calendar to 2012 to get an extra year. That makes exactly as much sense as gaining an hour through daylight saving time. It’s been a few days since the time change took effect, but I’m still piecing together which devices in my house automatically changed and which ones I’ll have to mentally subtract an hour from for the next six months. You have no idea how hard it is to recalibrate a sundial. The time change throws off the sleep schedules for millions of people and doesn’t actually save any energy, but at least parts of the world get to enjoy sixty minutes of time travel. Any crimes committed before the clocks fall back don’t count since you get to redo that hour, which is why I save all of my murders for that brief interval. If I knock on your door in the middle of the night, don’t open it. Besides letting me get away with vigilante justice, daylight saving time has absolutely no advantages. As much as it pains me, I’m willing to give up my most productive hour of the year for the good of the country. It’s time to end daylight saving time once and for all.
If the batteries in your clock die, don’t replace them. That means time is frozen and you’ll live forever.
For me, the factor that transformed daylight saving time from a mild annoyance to an outright calamity was children. I have a 1-year-old and 3-year-old who wake up at exactly the same time every morning, regardless of the day of the week or how hung over I am. I’ve heard a myth that childless couples sleep past 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings, but I don’t believe it. If that were true, no one would procreate, at least not on purpose. My kids maintain this tragic consistency by going to bed at exactly the same time every night. When their bodies get to quitting time, they immediately shut down, regardless of what they’re in the middle of doing. That’s why it’s possible for a drowsy toddler to almost drown in a plate of spaghetti. We now post lifeguards on pasta night. There’s no way to automatically shift my kids’ internal clocks for daylight saving time. Instead, I have to spend days keeping them up past what used to be their bedtime so they don’t wake up an hour too early according to the new time. The only thing worse than a weekday is a weekday early-rising children force me to start sixty minutes ahead of schedule. My daughters react to this bit of responsible parenting on my part by lashing out with exhausted temper tantrums. There’s no way a perk like time-travel murders could cancel out that drawback.

Daylight saving supporters point to several reasons why the time change is still necessary, but almost no one knows what they are. Proponents explained them at a seminar everyone missed because of the time change. One of the oldest explanations is that farmers need extra light to do their chores. According to this argument, it’s more logical to have 316 million Americans adjust their lives than to have farmers set their alarms an hour earlier for part of the year. As long as we’re arbitrarily inconveniencing the entire human population to accommodate a vocational minority, we might as well give the guys on the factory line a turn. Next time let’s change our clocks by 12 hours so everyone on third shift has a chance to enjoy the sun.

Farmers never fully understood the alarm clock, but they had a vague notion it was some kind of mechanical rooster. That’s why most tried to eat it.
In the modern world, letting farmers dictate the country’s policy on anything is a curious anachronism. Less than 3 percent of the population still works in agriculture. Statistically speaking, farmers are now rarer than griffins. In fact, I drove under one of those flying beasts on my way to work. That’s how I learned a bird isn’t the worst thing that can poop on my windshield. It makes no sense to force everyone to adjust their clocks every year to accommodate a few holdouts in a dying profession. If farmers absolutely can’t wake up an hour earlier on their own, they could always work in the dark. Night vision goggles are becoming increasingly affordable, and wearing them is a great way to freak out livestock. You haven’t really lived until you’ve caused a few pigs to have a heart attack. It serves them right for slowly killing us with bacon.

Another explanation given to support daylight saving time is it saves energy. No one believes this anymore, which is an accomplishment since it’s nearly impossible to get people to agree on anything. A small group of diehards still believes the earth is flat, and a sizable minority suspects the wind is just a lie perpetuated by the media. I’ll believe in tornadoes when I see one. On daylight saving time, though, there’s a consensus: Study after study shows the energy savings range from “almost none” to “exactly none.” It doesn’t take graphs and data sets to prove daylight saving time is pointless. If I use less electricity in the morning because it’s light, then logically I use more of it at night because it gets dark earlier. There’s no net gain of sunlight, so there’s no overall energy savings. The only real way to gain more hours of UV radiation is to head to the southern hemisphere for part of the year. With any luck, daylight saving supporters will settle in there and never come back.

There’s no reason the workday has to line up with the daylight hours. The sun has been obsolete ever since the invention of the incandescent light bulb.

At this point, no one cares about farmers, and everyone agrees no energy is being saved. The only reason we still have daylight saving time at all is institutional laziness. It’s already in place, and changing anything riles up old people. I live in Indiana, which for many decades didn’t follow daylight saving time. This caused constant confusion since some months we were on the same time as neighboring states and other months we weren’t. The legislature eventually opted to change time annually like everyone else, but only after a protracted ideological struggle that was more controversial than gun control and healthcare combined. To get the entire country to make the switch in the opposite direction would ruin countless political careers and result in a civil war. Nobody else wants to go that far, but I’m willing to replay the whole brother-against-brother thing if it means my kids will be a little less agitated for a week or two each fall.