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时间:2006-09-22 16:00来源:互联网 提供网友:clian1   字体: [ ]

     As the pace of life in today's world grows ever faster, we seem forever on the go. With so much to do and so little time to do it in, how are we to cope? Richard Tomkins sets about untangling the problem and comes up with an answer.



Old Father Time Becomes a Terror

Richard Tomkins

1     Once upon a time, technology, we thought, would make our lives easier. Machines were expected to do our work for us, leaving us with ever-increasing quantities of time to waste away on idleness and pleasure.



2    But instead of liberating1 us, technology has enslaved us. Innovations are occurring at a bewildering rate: as many now arrive in a year as once arrived in a millennium2. And as each invention arrives, it eats further into our time.

3    The motorcar, for example, promised unimaginable levels of personal mobility3. But now, traffic in cities moves more slowly than it did in the days of the horse-drawn carriage, and we waste our lives stuck in traffic jams.

4    The aircraft promised new horizons, too. The trouble is, it delivered them. Its very existence created a demand for time-consuming journeys that we would never previously4 have dreamed of undertaking5 -- the transatlantic shopping expedition, for example, or the trip to a convention on the other side of the world.

5    In most cases, technology has not saved time, but enabled us to do more things. In the home, washing machines promised to free women from having to toil6 over the laundry. In reality, they encouraged us to change our clothes daily instead of weekly, creating seven times as much washing and ironing. Similarly, the weekly bath has been replaced by the daily shower, multiplying the hours spent on personal grooming7.       在大多数情况下,技术发展并未节省时间,而是使我们得以做更多的事。在家里,洗衣机可望使妇女摆脱繁重的洗衣劳作。但事实上,它们促使我们每天,而不是每星期换一次衣服,这就使熨洗衣物的工作量变成原来的7倍。同样地,每周一次的沐浴为每日一次的淋浴所代替,使得用于个人穿着打扮的时间大大增加。

6    Meanwhile, technology has not only allowed work to spread into our leisure time -- the laptop-on-the-beach syndrome8 -- but added the new burden of dealing9 with faxes, e-mails and voicemails. It has also provided us with the opportunity to spend hours fixing software glitches10 on our personal computers or filling our heads with useless information from the Internet.

7    Technology apart, the Internet points the way to a second reason why we feel so time-pressed: the information explosion.

8    A couple of centuries ago, nearly all the world's accumulated learning could be contained in the heads of a few philosophers. Today, those heads could not hope to accommodate more than a tiny fraction of the information generated in a single day.

9    News, facts and opinions pour in from every corner of the world. The television set offers 150 channels. There are millions of Internet sites. Magazines, books and CD-ROMs proliferate11.

10    "In the whole world of scholarship, there were only a handful of scientific journals in the 18th century, and the publication of a book was an event," says Edward Wilson, honorary curator in entomology at Harvard University's museum of comparative zoology12. "Now, I find myself subscribing13 to 60 or 70 journals or magazines just to keep me up with what amounts to a minute proportion of the expanding frontiers of scholarship."

11    There is another reason for our increased time stress levels, too: rising prosperity. As ever-larger quantities of goods and services are produced, they have to be consumed. Driven on by advertising14, we do our best to oblige: we buy more, travel more and play more, but we struggle to keep up. So we suffer from what Wilson calls discontent with super abundance -- the confusion of endless choice.

12    Of course, not everyone is overstressed. "It's a convenient shorthand to say we're all time-starved, but we have to remember that it only applies to, say, half the population," says Michael Willmott, director of the Future Foundation, a London research company.

13    "You've got people retiring early, you've got the unemployed15, you've got other people maybe only peripherally16 involved in the economy who don't have this situation at all. If you're unemployed, your problem is that you've got too much time, not too little."

14    Paul Edwards, chairman of the London-based Henley Centre forecasting group, points out that the feeling of pressures can also be exaggerated, or self-imposed. "Everyone talks about it so much that about 50 percent of unemployed or retired17 people will tell you they never have enough time to get things done," he says. "It's almost got to the point where there's stress envy. If you're not stressed, you're not succeeding. Everyone wants to have a little bit of this stress to show they're an important person."

15    There is another aspect to all of this too. Hour-by-hour logs kept by thousands of volunteers over the decades have shown that, in the U.K. , working hours have risen only slightly in the last 10 years, and in the U.S., they have actually fallen -- even for those in professional and executive jobs, where the perceptions of stress are highest.

16    In the U.S., John Robinson, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, and Geoffrey Godbey, professor of leisure studies at Penn State University found that, since the mid-1960s, the average American had gained five hours a week in free time -- that is, time left after working, sleeping, commuting18, caring for children and doing the chores.

17    The gains, however, were unevenly19 distributed. The people who benefited the most were singles and empty-nesters. Those who gained the least -- less than an hour -- were working couples with pre-school children, perhaps reflecting the trend for parents to spend more time nurturing20 their offspring.

18    There is, of course, a gender21 issue here, too. Advances in household appliances may have encouraged women to take paying jobs: but as we have already noted22, technology did not end household chores. As a result, we see appalling23 inequalities in the distribution of free time between the sexes. According to the Henley Centre, working fathers in the U. K. average 48 hours of free time a week. Working mothers get 14.

19    Inequalities apart, the perception of the time famine is widespread, and has provoked a variety of reactions. One is an attempt to gain the largest possible amount of satisfaction from the smallest possible investment of time. People today want fast food, sound bytes and instant gratification. And they become upset when time is wasted.

20    "People talk about quality time. They want perfect moments," says the Henley Centre's Edwards. "If you take your kids to a movie and McDonald's and it's not perfect, you've wasted an afternoon, and it's a sense that you've lost something precious. If you lose some money you can earn some more, but if you waste time you can never get it back."

21    People are also trying to buy time. Anything that helps streamline24 our lives is a growth market. One example is what Americans call concierge25 services -- domestic help, childcare, gardening and decorating. And on-line retailers26 are seeing big increases in sales -- though not, as yet, profits.

22    A third reaction to time famine has been the growth of the work-life debate. You hear more about people taking early retirement27 or giving up high pressure jobs in favour of occupations with shorter working hours. And bodies such as Britain's National Work-Life Forum28 have sprung up, urging employers to end the long-hours culture among managers and to adopt family-friendly working policies.

23    The trouble with all these reactions is that liberating time -- whether by making better use of it, buying it from others or reducing the amount spent at work -- is futile29 if the hours gained are immediately diverted to other purposes.

24    As Godbey points out, the stress we feel arises not from a shortage of time, but from the surfeit30 of things we try to cram31 into it. "It's the kid in the candy store," he says. "There's just so many good things to do. The array of choices is stunning32. Our free time is increasing, but not as fast as our sense of the necessary."

25    A more successful remedy may lie in understanding the problem rather than evading33 it.

26    Before the industrial revolution, people lived in small communities with limited communications. Within the confines of their village, they could reasonably expect to know everything that was to be known, see everything that was to be seen, and do everything that was to be done.

27    Today, being curious by nature, we are still trying to do the same. But the global village is a world of limitless possibilities, and we can never achieve our aim.

28    It is not more time we need: it is fewer desires. We need to switch off the cell-phone and leave the children to play by themselves. We need to buy less, read less and travel less. We need to set boundaries for ourselves, or be doomed34 to mounting despair.




1 liberating f5d558ed9cd728539ee8f7d9a52a7668     
解放,释放( liberate的现在分词 )
  • Revolution means liberating the productive forces. 革命就是为了解放生产力。
  • They had already taken on their shoulders the burden of reforming society and liberating mankind. 甚至在这些集会聚谈中,他们就已经夸大地把改革社会、解放人群的责任放在自己的肩头了。 来自汉英文学 - 家(1-26) - 家(1-26)
2 millennium x7DzO     
  • The whole world was counting down to the new millennium.全世界都在倒计时迎接新千年的到来。
  • We waited as the clock ticked away the last few seconds of the old millennium.我们静候着时钟滴答走过千年的最后几秒钟。
3 mobility H6rzu     
  • The difference in regional house prices acts as an obstacle to mobility of labour.不同地区房价的差异阻碍了劳动力的流动。
  • Mobility is very important in guerrilla warfare.机动性在游击战中至关重要。
4 previously bkzzzC     
  • The bicycle tyre blew out at a previously damaged point.自行车胎在以前损坏过的地方又爆开了。
  • Let me digress for a moment and explain what had happened previously.让我岔开一会儿,解释原先发生了什么。
5 undertaking Mfkz7S     
  • He gave her an undertaking that he would pay the money back with in a year.他向她做了一年内还钱的保证。
  • He is too timid to venture upon an undertaking.他太胆小,不敢从事任何事业。
6 toil WJezp     
  • The wealth comes from the toil of the masses.财富来自大众的辛勤劳动。
  • Every single grain is the result of toil.每一粒粮食都来之不易。
7 grooming grooming     
n. 修饰, 美容,(动物)梳理毛发
  • You should always pay attention to personal grooming. 你应随时注意个人仪容。
  • We watched two apes grooming each other. 我们看两只猩猩在互相理毛。
8 syndrome uqBwu     
  • The Institute says that an unidentified virus is to blame for the syndrome. 该研究所表示,引起这种综合症的是一种尚未确认的病毒。
  • Results indicated that 11 fetuses had Down syndrome. 结果表明有11个胎儿患有唐氏综合征。
9 dealing NvjzWP     
  • This store has an excellent reputation for fair dealing.该商店因买卖公道而享有极高的声誉。
  • His fair dealing earned our confidence.他的诚实的行为获得我们的信任。
10 glitches 31481b5bf9faeb6896293dd2946b8104     
n.小过失,差错( glitch的名词复数 )
  • Manufacturing glitches have limited the factory's output. 生产中的故障影响了该厂的产量。 来自辞典例句
  • Another kind of period variation,\"Glitches,\" are seen in several pulsars. 在几个脉冲星中还看到了周期的另一种变化,即“自转突快”现象。 来自辞典例句
11 proliferate uisyE     
  • We must not proliferate nuclear arms.我们决不能扩散核武器。
  • Rabbits proliferate when they have plenty of food.兔子有充足的食物就会繁衍得很快。
12 zoology efJwZ     
  • I would like to brush up my zoology.我想重新温习一下动物学。
  • The library didn't stock zoology textbooks.这家图书馆没有动物学教科书。
13 subscribing f4597c606c49819f626a7ad1f1e080a8     
v.捐助( subscribe的现在分词 );签署,题词;订阅;同意
  • I am subscribing for some of the books of a book club. 我预订了几本这家书刊俱乐部出版的书。 来自辞典例句
  • I am glad to have such a pleasant opportunity of subscribing myself. 今后益望努力前途,为国效力。 来自互联网
14 advertising 1zjzi3     
n.广告业;广告活动 a.广告的;广告业务的
  • Can you give me any advice on getting into advertising? 你能指点我如何涉足广告业吗?
  • The advertising campaign is aimed primarily at young people. 这个广告宣传运动主要是针对年轻人的。
15 unemployed lfIz5Q     
  • There are now over four million unemployed workers in this country.这个国家现有四百万失业人员。
  • The unemployed hunger for jobs.失业者渴望得到工作。
16 peripherally 842cf01a38cf6189b672e91e79a9f0fe     
  • Subpleural nodules are visible peripherally and in relation to the major fissures. 可见肺外带胸膜下结节,与肺裂相关。
  • Now farming endowment the current situation of current domain and outlet, to to see peripherally. 怎样规范流通体制,就尖锐地摆到我们的面前。现就农资流通领域的现状及出路,谈几点肤浅之见。
17 retired Njhzyv     
  • The old man retired to the country for rest.这位老人下乡休息去了。
  • Many retired people take up gardening as a hobby.许多退休的人都以从事园艺为嗜好。
18 commuting d2c3874ec246fb1858841223ffe4992e     
  • I used the commuting time to read and answer my mail. 我利用上下班在汽车中的时间来阅读和答复给我的函电。
  • Noncommuting objects are as real to the mathematicians as commuting objects. 对于数学家来说,不可交换的对象与可交换的对象是一样真实的。
19 unevenly 9fZz51     
  • Fuel resources are very unevenly distributed. 燃料资源分布很不均匀。
  • The cloth is dyed unevenly. 布染花了。
20 nurturing d35e8f9c6b6b0f1c54ced7de730a6241     
养育( nurture的现在分词 ); 培育; 滋长; 助长
  • These delicate plants need careful nurturing. 这些幼嫩的植物需要精心培育。
  • The modern conservatory is not an environment for nurturing plants. 这个现代化温室的环境不适合培育植物。
21 gender slSyD     
  • French differs from English in having gender for all nouns.法语不同于英语,所有的名词都有性。
  • Women are sometimes denied opportunities solely because of their gender.妇女有时仅仅因为性别而无法获得种种机会。
22 noted 5n4zXc     
  • The local hotel is noted for its good table.当地的那家酒店以餐食精美而著称。
  • Jim is noted for arriving late for work.吉姆上班迟到出了名。
23 appalling iNwz9     
  • The search was hampered by appalling weather conditions.恶劣的天气妨碍了搜寻工作。
  • Nothing can extenuate such appalling behaviour.这种骇人听闻的行径罪无可恕。
24 streamline dtiwk     
  • We must streamline our methods.我们必须简化方法。
  • Any liquid or gas passing it will have streamline flow.任何通过它的液体或气体将呈流线型的流动。
25 concierge gppzr     
  • This time the concierge was surprised to the point of bewilderment.这时候看门人惊奇到了困惑不解的地步。
  • As I went into the dining-room the concierge brought me a police bulletin to fill out.我走进餐厅的时候,看门人拿来一张警察局发的表格要我填。
26 retailers 08ff8df43efeef1abfd3410ef6661c95     
零售商,零售店( retailer的名词复数 )
  • High street retailers reported a marked increase in sales before Christmas. 商业街的零售商报告说圣诞节前销售量显著提高。
  • Retailers have a statutory duty to provide goods suitable for their purpose. 零售商有为他们提供符合要求的货品的法定义务。
27 retirement TWoxH     
  • She wanted to enjoy her retirement without being beset by financial worries.她想享受退休生活而不必为金钱担忧。
  • I have to put everything away for my retirement.我必须把一切都积蓄起来以便退休后用。
28 forum cilx0     
  • They're holding a forum on new ways of teaching history.他们正在举行历史教学讨论会。
  • The organisation would provide a forum where problems could be discussed.这个组织将提供一个可以讨论问题的平台。
29 futile vfTz2     
  • They were killed,to the last man,in a futile attack.因为进攻失败,他们全部被杀,无一幸免。
  • Their efforts to revive him were futile.他们对他抢救无效。
30 surfeit errwi     
  • The voters are pretty sick of such a surfeit of primary sloganeering.选民们对于初选时没完没了地空喊口号的现象感到发腻了。
  • A surfeit of food makes one sick.饮食过量使人生病。
31 cram 6oizE     
  • There was such a cram in the church.教堂里拥挤得要命。
  • The room's full,we can't cram any more people in.屋里满满的,再也挤不进去人了。
32 stunning NhGzDh     
  • His plays are distinguished only by their stunning mediocrity.他的戏剧与众不同之处就是平凡得出奇。
  • The finished effect was absolutely stunning.完工后的效果非常美。
33 evading 6af7bd759f5505efaee3e9c7803918e5     
逃避( evade的现在分词 ); 避开; 回避; 想不出
  • Segmentation of a project is one means of evading NEPA. 把某一工程进行分割,是回避《国家环境政策法》的一种手段。 来自英汉非文学 - 环境法 - 环境法
  • Too many companies, she says, are evading the issue. 她说太多公司都在回避这个问题。
34 doomed EuuzC1     
  • The court doomed the accused to a long term of imprisonment. 法庭判处被告长期监禁。
  • A country ruled by an iron hand is doomed to suffer. 被铁腕人物统治的国家定会遭受不幸的。
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