Happy End of Daylight Saving Time!
Thank goodness it has finally ended. The post-work sunshine was starting to interfere with my allotted hours of solitary introspection. Besides, what’s the point of the sun when my fields lie fallow and I shan’t plant again until the raven’s ca-caw at Spring’s first light! You know, those fields I tend from my apartment and such.
This time of year, I like to settle in with my sleeping cap firmly upon my head and drift off to peaceful slumber in the 4:30 pm darkness. Sure, it’s terrifying for my Uber passengers, but those control freaks need to take that up with their therapists. Or maybe choose an Uber that doesn’t have a sleeping-cap-wearing driver.
Apparently, some people in The Swamp™ are attempting to scrap our sacred winter tradition of exacerbating everyone’s Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I would make a joke about how SAD that is, but such a joke would be a truly sad use of my literary skills. Plus, I’m presently weeping in a Panera Bread because it’s dark at 4:30 pm, and it’s hard to see my laptop’s screen through my seasonally-generated tears. I’d go cry at home, but home doesn’t have free Diet Pepsi refills.
Yes, there are people in Congress on the “Big Sunshine” payroll that think daylight is our nation’s biggest priority right now.
Health care? Nah.
Preserving women’s right to bodily autonomy? Nope.
Fixing inflation? Fuck that, and fuck you for wanting silly trifles like “affordable bread” that doesn’t require mountains of “devalued cash” you bring to Safeway in a rusty old “wheelbarrow.”
Manually tricking ourselves into thinking the Sun stays up for an extra hour?
BY GOD, THAT’S IT!
Well, “that’s it,” except for the fact that in true Congressional fashion, they failed to get that done. So, it seems permanent Daylight Saving Time will just have to join women’s rights and other things deemed not important enough to address right now.
Where does the idea of messing with the clocks come from?
It might surprise you to learn that the concept of DST was proposed satirically by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 as a means of conserving candles.
Ben’s Friends: OOOH, Ben, it’s like 8:30 pm and ye are still up? What happened to “early to bed, early to rise?”
Ben (peering over his bifocals): Jesus Christ, guys. I said that like 30 years ago. Give it a rest.
Ben’s Friends (in a mocking tone): But Ben, how will ye become healthy, wealthy, and wise?
Ben: You know what? Fuck you guys. I’m going to change the clocks so it’s still daylight at 8:30 pm for three-quarters of the year. Enjoy getting your kids to bed on a school night when the sun’s still up.
Ben’s Friends: Okay kite boy, whatever.
[Ben angrily summons the power of lightning, electrocuting his friends in a fit of uncharacteristic vitriol].
The idea was bandied around Europe and the Commonwealth (the British one…not the Commonwealth of Virginia, where bandying is forbidden) for years. As the world’s economies shifted from agrarian to industrial, the need to show up places at the same time became increasingly important.
You see, farmers start working when the sun rises. It doesn’t matter if the sun does that at 6 am, 8 am, or 2 pm for that matter. “Sun up” equals time to work. Classic agrarian!
But, instead of a farmer, let’s say you’re a top-hatted, monocled industrialist. Your factory is belching manganese-laden smog into the London skies, and you can’t rely on “sunshine” to awaken the ricket-stricken children. You need them to get to the factory on time for their 18-hour shift no matter when or if the sun rises.
Of course, much to the chagrin of your high school classmates on the internet, the earth really is a spinning sphere on a tilted axis. That means where you are on that sphere matters a lot to questions like “how long does daylight last?” and “how drastically does the length of day change each season?” and “do you have access to basic nutrition, healthcare, and education?”.
The closer you are to the Equator, the answers are closer to “really long,” “not much,” and “no.” But the industrialists thank you for your contribution of free manganese. The smog just isn’t the same without it.
And if you’re too far north/south, you can’t farm because the ground is frozen. And the walruses/penguins don’t care what time it is.
But if you’re smack-dab in the middle latitudes, like Europe, the United States, and Australia, things are just shifty enough to disrupt your industrial and post-industrial economies.
Things like energy crises, wars, and baseball’s need to sell prime-time advertising led the world’s governments to do what only a government can do: change time itself.
Note: Australians have historically been less affected by baseball, and more affected by difficulties in scheduling tea time whilst conducting three-day cricket matches.
So, here we are, in 2022. Kids are super lazy and almost never work in smelteries anymore. Most adults work indoors with fancy indoor lighting now. And our MacBook Airs and iPhone 14s update their clocks without our input. Mine says it’s 4:30 pm on Monday, November 7th right now (yep, I just wrote all those paragraphs in less than one minute!).
But it could be 11:45 am on November 8, for all I know. Or 10:45 am on August 8, given the fact that it’s 80 degrees outside on account of (consults high school friend’s Facebook page…) Joe Biden.
The point is, there has never been a time in history where what time the clock says it is has mattered less than it does now. Just get on the zoom call 2-3 minutes after whatever Outlook tells you, unmute yourself, and apologize for being late. Blame it on the time change!
What does seem to matter, however, is the arbitrary changing of the clocks. Our bodies have adapted throughout human history to operate on a predictable, organic, 24-hour schedule. Tossing a 23-hour or 25-hour day in there may not seem like much, but studies have shown otherwise. More than annoying, there are statistical correlations between suddenly getting dark an hour earlier and bad stuff, like heart attacks, car wrecks, and crime.
For now, though—at least until Congress can agree to change it—we’re stuck with premature darkness each evening, well before Jeopardy comes on. Embrace your SAD situation for at least one more season. Don your sleeping cap in solidarity with your Uber driver.
And chug endless Diet Pepsi refills to counteract your disrupted circadian rhythm.
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Want to read more right now? Try A Billionaire And A Gay Prostitute Walk Into The Public Square. Or Provocatively Combining Words For Fun And Zero Profit? Or how about Life Is What Happens While You’re Busy Watching Big Cats Get Busy.