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Happy Daylight Spending Time!

Happy Daylight Spending Time! It's finally our chance to enjoy the quality of life offered by Real Time. Now we can sleep until almost dawn, commute to work and school in the actual morning instead of during the night, savor the golden hour of the evening with active quality time outdoors without pushing into what should be winding-down time, and then relax into the beauty of a backyard bonfire or a candlelit dinner or a holiday light viewing stroll before the hour required of most human beings to go to bed in order to receive a healthy amount of sleep. Ah, what a relief from the unsustainable grind of Daylight Saving Time!

It is fashionable to hate on the end of Daylight Saving Time, but I will not be fooled into participating in that griping. I believe that most of the whiners are conflating the onset of Standard Time with the time of year when the overall amount of actual daylight decreases naturally in the northern realms of the Earth, which is a fact of life outside the control of politicians and clock settings. It can be hard for many people to adjust to the lower amount of sunlight in the winter. However, Daylight Saving Time can't save anyone from the effects of natural seasonal changes; in fact, it only makes them worse.

There is scientific consensus that, in addition to the serious health consequences of time zone shifts themselves, in either direction, it is unnatural and unhealthy for societies to force the general population to wake up deep in the pitch dark night to begin school and work before dawn, then subject us to an evening of such extended daylight that nature works against a circadian rhythm that would allow us to feel sleepy in time to get a healthy amount of rest for the next brutal morning routine.

So why do so many people claim to prefer Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, even at the extreme edge of a time zone (ahem, Michigan way back in the Far Lands of Eastern Time) that already pushes its citizens outside of a wholesome circadian rhythm even in Standard Time? Why are some politicians and citizens pushing not for the abolition of DST but for its permanent, year-round adoption?

I have an idea. I suspect that the raggedy sensations of struggling against nature to get up in the middle of the night, followed by the giddy rush of exhaustion-fueled hyperactivity in the evenings, feeds the American addiction to the self-abusive "work hard, play hard" capitalistic value system that has trained us to interpret suffering and difficulty as virtues, and to weaken the mental facilities that enable us to make good decisions or think critically about our life choices. I think the cortisol-pumping rush of sleep deficit makes rat race runners feel like marathon athletes as they impulsively fritter away their time and money each day after a hard yet frustratingly unproductive day of work, so depleted of mental energy at the end of the workday that they don't have the gumption to overcome the temptations of empty self-soothing consumption habits to do anything healthy or truly fulfilling in their leisure time. This economic stimulation via squeezing little worker turnips after the workday was the explicit goal of DST, and from what I can find on the internet, it works, but the effect of economic stimulation is weak compared to the high damage DST does to human health. If it were a country, its main export would be heart attacks.

During Daylight Saving Time, Americans don't actually enjoy the long evening sunshine outside as much as they binge on TV shows and wine and dorky merchandise about being a wine mom and other internet shopping compulsions, for as long and as extremely as possible before passing out for a few unsatisfying hours and starting again, taking pride in how little sleep they need to keep the miserable hamster wheel of that lifestyle spinning 'round.

Americans have been duped into a communal belief that this lifestyle is funny if not exactly fun, and that it is aspirational simply because it's difficult. People act shocked and horrified when DST ends and it gets dark at dinnertime because that's when the truth is revealed about how much rest has been stolen from them for the majority of the year. The end of DST is the comedown from an addictive and deadly high, and it doesn't feel good in the moment, so people freak out and reject it.

Like high school dropouts sucking on vape pens, they've become addicted to an effectively marketed practice of self-degradation that operates like a zombie fungus on a hardworking carpenter ant to turn them not into productive workers but into helplessly gullible consumers of toxic trash, some of it emblazoned with slogans that turn their mentally hijacked self-harm habits into a funny joke they share, all spore-like, with their friends.

We are not having as much fun as we have been led to believe we are. Daylight Saving Time is, in fact, a sneaky killer of evening fun in all seasons. 

DST killed the drive-in movie theater, and not even the pandemic could really bring it back. How much fun is it to stay up long enough to watch a post-dusk movie when the standard "day job" has been shifted into the graveyard zone? If DST extended through the winter, it would steal away our candlelit dinners at a time that allows for digestion of food before going to bed. It would rob our children of the chance to see Christmas lights twinkling in the dark, except maybe during an inhumane commute to school at an hour that does violence to their health and happiness.

Thank you, no!

My family and I are going to enjoy every moment we can while Real Time lasts. We support an end to the ridiculous and unnecessary torment of Daylight Saving Time. We want to be fully awake and engaged at work and school and fully relaxed in our leisure time. The way I see it, time is not something that can be hoarded away, and trying to "save" it from the clutches of winter is a losing deal with the darkness. You can have an extra hour in your day only if you steal it from your night at the expense of your own wellness.

Life is all about how and with whom we spend our time. Now that I have enjoyed a deliciously full night's sleep, I'm going to spend some of mine smelling fallen leaves in the gilded autumn sunshine with my family today, splitting and stacking firewood that we'll enjoy burning through the cozily dark winter evenings ahead. What will you spend your Real Time doing?

Jean Michelle Miernik is the author of Leirah and the Wild Man: A Tale of Obsession and Survival at the Edges of the Byzantine World.


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