We encourage you to read it here or to watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3oIiH7BLmg and then to comment on it at the bottom of the article.
There are 6 main time zones people live in, two focussed on the past, two on the present and two on the future. People focussed on the past remember the good times. These are people who keep family records and photos etc. Others focus only on regret and failure. Those two are called past positive and past negative.
In the present we have hedonism, where people preserve pleasure avoid pain, others say “my life is fated by poverty by religion by conditions etc”.
Most people are future oriented. We have learned to work instead of having fun; resisting temptation. In order to be future oriented you have to trust that when you decide something it will happen eventually. If there is great inflation, you don’t put money in the bank because you can’t trust the future. If your family is unstable adults can’t keep their promises to them.
The nearer you are to the equator the more present orientated you are. The more you are in an environment where climate doesn’t change the more you are not used to change.
Protestants have higher GDP than Catholics, due to their ethic of working hard to succeed to demonstrate that they are God’s chosen people.
Philip Zimbardo (the speaker) comes from Italy, there is a political movement “La Liga” to cut Italy in half and have north and south cutting just below Tuscany. People in the north say “we do all the work, people in the south are lazy want to have children and long dinners etc” people in the south say “they’re not Italian they’re German etc they eat yoghurt instead of pasta” la Liga got 14% of the vote.
It’s true, people in the north are more future oriented and people in the south are more present hedonistic or past positive. A poet spoke to the speaker and said, nothing gets done in Sicily (where the speaker is from) because there is no future tense in Sicilian dialect.
So if many people share a time perspective, it characterizes a nation.
The Book ‘A Geography of Time” by Robert Levine, he looks at the pace of life in various countries. Time perspective is how people divide their time into partitions, another kind of time orientation is your sense of duration: how much time has expired while you are in a certain situation, this affects whether you are bored or excited or not.
In different cultures people have a different pace of life, this can be measured by seeing how fast they walk, how long it takes to post something etc. The pace of life in cities can also be measured in this way. In America he ranks 60 cities and in the ones with the highest pace of life people have the most heart problems.
Everyone starts off as a present hedonist. The speaker’s feeling is that schools’ job is to make people more future oriented or more past oriented. In the USA a child drops out of school every 9 seconds and there is a worse statistic for people from minorities and worse for boys than girls.
This is a recipe for disaster amongst American boys. Its not just poor performance, a recent study shows that by the time a boy is 21 he has spent 10,000 hours playing video games alone and probably more watching pornography alone. This means they haven’t learnt social skills and that they live in a world that they create: the games are exciting. The boys’ brains are being digitally re-wired, so they will never fit in to a traditional classroom which is analogue: you have no control, people are talking to you and kids must now be in an education system in which they are controlling something. School is passive and concerned with teaching delay of gratification.
All addictions are addictions of present hedonism; food, sex, drugs, gambling etc. All of education is designed for future oriented kids who are not the problem. It tells us the bad consequences of doing what you are doing and future oriented kids know that already. Present oriented kids know the consequences but they do not filter back to change their behaviour which is the power of time perspective.
We are underestimating the power of technology to change young people’s brains. Kids don’t wear watches as this is a single function device and as such, a waste of time. Seconds are what matter. Most Americans are annoyed by how long it takes to start your computer or download something. More than a minute makes people angry. Waiting is a waste of time.
There is a fundamental change in our culture; kids are totally different that we were due to this revolution in time. People (everyone) always say they are busier than they were before and they sacrifice friends, family and sleep for success. If they had an extra day in the week they would spend it working more. 20 years ago 60% of families ate together now 20% of them do it (Americans). This goes against family values.
Conflicts can often be resolved by understanding time perspectives.
Summary of the video done by Thomas Coleman