Here’s a fact that may be troubling: President Donald Trump’s inauguration was only 20 weeks ago.
Let’s recall just a few of the events that have unfolded since: the ongoing Michael Flynn investigation, votes to repeal Obamacare, James Comey’s firing and explosive testimony, Trump sharing classified information with the Russians, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, and on and on.
It’s been a nonstop avalanche of news. And here’s a hypothesis, grounded in psychological theory: The sheer amount of news generated by the Trump administration is warping our perception of time, stretching these 20-odd weeks into what feels like an eternity.
The simple explanation: It’s a trick of our memories. The more important things we can remember in a given time period, the more we assume a greater amount of time has passed.
“In general, it seems that passage-of-time judgments are strongly affected by the number and ‘intensity’ of ‘events’ that have occurred in a time period,” John Wearden, a psychologist and author of The Psychology of Time Perception, says in an email. “You’d tend to say that the last few months seemed to last a long time if lots had happened, and to be faster if not much had.”
And it’s not just any memories that make us feel like more time has passed; it’s the more troubling, unusual, and emotionally charged ones that do.
“Yes, jam-packed cycles of important (and problematic) news alter our perception of time,” says Michael Flaherty, a psychology professor at Eckerd College in Florida. Especially if they tug on negative emotions.
In any case, it’s safe to say this period of time in American history — and world history, for that matter — will prove to be extremely memorable. And when we look back on this time period when we’re older, it may take up more room in our memories, which will make it seem like it lasted longer than it did.
And as long as this time period feels abnormal, the longer it will feel.
If your schadenboner lasts more than eight years please call a doctor and tell him/her that you are tired of winning.
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”. – Albert Einstein.