Is it just me, or is everything happening faster than ever before? It like we’re applying the principle of TiVo –which lets you skip through commercials and boring parts faster than ever before – to everything. For instance, just about the time I decide to see a movie in the theatre, it’s released on DVD. And consider these other examples.
Item: The Academy Award nominations were announced last week, but the Super Bowl hasn’t been played yet. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has been slowly moving up the Oscar ceremony – from April to March in 2003, to February this year. They’re even considering bumping it to January in 2012. This seems counterproductive from a marketing standpoint. Once the awards are given out, there’s always some poor film whose ads have to shift from shouting “12 nominations” to showing a wee little Oscar because it won only an obscure technical award for making Montreal look like Manhattan.
Item: An aspiring journalist at the Stanford Daily recently told me that her high school had administered ten advanced placement tests. I don’t remember studying ten different subjects in high school. She explained that some parents pressure their kids to take lots of AP tests because, if passed, the tests can translate into automatic college credits, lowering overall tuition costs. It would also seem to fry the brains of high school students, but whatever.
Item: Another educational trend I missed out on is early college admission. Although a quick Wikipedia search tells me that this trend originally blossomed and then faded between the 1930s and the 1950s, and then popped up again in the 1980s. Thankfully, it may be losing its luster again because research has finally shown that, no, teenagers really don’t have any idea what they want to do with their lives, and starting them on the wrong career path sooner only causes problems later. Of course, everybody does something in their adolescence that causes problems later; if we were able to isolate and prevent those events, we’d never learn anything.
Item: The American Journal of Pediatrics came out with a report last August noting a marked increase in early-onset puberty among girls. For unknown reasons, some of them were maturing as early as 7 or 8. If you asked women which developmental process they’d prefer to accelerate, I bet they’d name pregnancy over puberty.
Item: As soon as Halloween is over, the Christmas decorations go up. Didn’t there used to be a holiday called Thanksgiving? I remember turkey being involved.
At the same time, there is a whole passel of things that should happen faster, but don’t.
Test results. When my wife took the board certification test to practice medicine for another ten years, it took two months to get the results. She was 11 days away from her license expiring … and the test was computerized.
Refinancing. When we tried to refinance our house last year, it was four months before we realized the bank wasn’t committed to the idea. How difficult can it be? It’s a math problem: this is what we owe, this is what the house is worth, this is what we have, and this is what we make. The appraisal alone took weeks, and the guy came up with the exact same number as zillow.com.
Inaugurations. Why the heck do we wait until January to inaugurate people who are elected in November? It’s not like the president and members of Congress come to Washington by stagecoach anymore. No other country but the United States does this. It used to be worse — Presidential inaugurations used to take place in March until Franklin Roosevelt’s second term. I say we bring in new presidents no later than the holidays. After all, presidential administrations are a lot like Christmas – a whole lot of folderol beforehand, a whole lot of disappointment afterward because we didn’t get what we wanted.
News. Why do I have to wait to have a print newspaper delivered to my driveway in the morning? Why can’t I just go to my computer and bring up the latest news? Wait, that already happens. Never mind.
Let’s recap. On the one hand, we have things happening too fast. On the other hand, we have things happening too slowly. Too bad there isn’t a way to adapt TiVo technology so you can just slow down the good things, speed up the bad ones, not to mention rewinding and replaying the best parts. Imagine a world of five-minute dentist appointments and five-year vacations.
Better yet, the opportunity to go back to those adolescent moments that caused so many problems later and erase them completely. That’s technology worth inventing.