Faster Not Better

German Sociologist Harmut Rosa has recently published “Acceleration and Alienation” an essay about his idea that acceleration has become a key concept of our age. He makes a distinction between what he terms mechanical acceleration, or how long it takes us to do something and the pace of social change, the acceleration of daily life. It may take us less time to do things, he points out, but we are more and more pressed for time. One reason is because there is more to do and we are under pressure to experience it all. This pressure can lead to a feeling of depression or alienation. Another aspect of acceleration affects our political life, decisions now have to be made faster and faster, meaning according to Rosa, that there is less time for thinking and decisions can’t help but be made on an emotional basis. He compares acceleration to a Leviathan, a monster that cannot be tamed. That analogy, however, may only be valid in that we may not be able to stop acceleration from existing or even from growing, but on a personal level we can say, “the buck stops here.” We can take a deep breath, take stock, choose how we deal with the pace of our lives and redefine our priorities.