Saturday, March 10, 2018

Daylight Saving Time

In the 2001 British mystery and comedy of manners movie Gosford Park, there is a scene in which Maggie Smith (as Countess Constance Trentham), while dressing for some typically aristocratic outdoor activity, laments, "Why do we have to do these things? Of course, the fact that pretentious, overly rich people have to do certain things as part of the rich pretense that is their life is a presumption of the film, one which the audience presumably understands.  But there are a lot of things we all do in life which also merit Maggie's penetrating question. For example, why do we have to move our clocks forward an hour and so have to drive to work next week in deep darkness? 

In a capitalist society, the default presumption must be that some moneyed interest benefits from this absurd practice. One theory that I have heard is that it was stores that pushed for Daylight Saving Time, on the theory that with more afternoon daylight people would stay outside and shop on their way home from work. I don't know how true that is, but it is at least intuitively plausible. Of course, nowadays when more and more people shop online anyway, what difference does the extra afternoon daylight make, especially when one can now shop all day on Sundays and holidays even in stores? And the growing number of stores that are open late or even all night suggests that darkness is no longer such an obstacle to shopping, if it ever really was.

But Daylight Saving Time continues as part of the commercial capitalist pretense of our contemporary life. In fact Daylight Saving Time has expanded its reach, When I was a child, it began on the last Sunday of April and ended on the last Sunday in September. Now it starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday of November! In the spirit of Constance Trentham, I guess it is just one of those things we just have to do!

No comments:

Post a Comment