Time in the digital society

Richard David Precht believes that time is the most valuable resource in our society. But in an increasingly digitalised and highly technological world the dividing line between work and leisure time is becoming blurred. The philosopher and publisher talks (to us) about the current perception of time and the search for new meaning.


The philosopher on...

... how we view time today: Time has taken on a new significance in society. People are living much longer than they used to and can shape their lives as they see fit. This is something a farmer in the 19th century, for example, could not do. But the more we take control over our own lives, the more the question arises: how can I make meaningful use of my time? In this respect, we place various demands on ourselves: we want to perform well at work, but at the same time focus on our families, friendships and interests – all these expectations combine to leave us feeling that we have no time.

... the current working world: On the one hand, people – especially young people – want to work less, to have more time for themselves. On the other hand, our working world is characterised by a gruelling pace, the like of which we have never previously experienced. In the past, people could no longer be reached by the boss once the working day was over. We can all see that this eight-hour day is disappearing, and with the march of digital technologies there is an expectation, primarily because of the smartphone, that we can be reached at all times. This availability exerts a strong psychological pressure on us.

... the need for deceleration: In the new working world it will be important to erect personal protection zones. The question is: who will be responsible for doing this? The legislator or companies themselves? With all the changes that are happening, we see that our soul can only keep pace with this acceleration to a certain degree. Psychological illnesses and stress symptoms make us aware that we cannot function forever, we see that we need “crumple” zones, recreation zones. As the need for health and well-being is now much more important than it used to be, it is also becoming the employer’s responsibility to integrate this into the corporate culture.

...a new definition of leisure time: We will have to rethink our current concept of leisure time. Instead of the time between five o’clock in the evening and eight the next morning, there will be a new definition of leisure time, in which the right to be unavailable is accepted. Young people in particular are recognising that their working life is a major part of their time on earth. Material needs are becoming less significant. More and more people are saying: We do not need more things, we need more time. This powerful desire will lead to a change of mind-set: We are no longer living to work, but working to live.