Daylight saving time is just one way standardized time zones oppress you
Standardized clock time is immensely useful. It is no exaggeration to say that the modern world depends on it: Ships once required it to navigate. The GPS systems that guide our cars, planes and farm combines count on standard time to calculate their positions. If you think setting up a phone call between Washington and London is difficult now because of differing time zones, imagine if local time varied by a few minutes between Washington and Pittsburgh, a few degrees of longitude west. In a society dependent on just-in-time supply chains and automated trading that works in microseconds, accurate, precisely calibrated time is as important as electricity.
But standardized time can be, and has been, used against us. Whether you get more out of clock time than it gets out of you is largely a function of your economic security. Almost 90 years after John Maynard Keynes’s prediction that the future would hold 15-hour workweeks and lives of leisure, we feel increasingly time-starved. Sociologist Judy Wajcman, in her book “Pressed for Time,” calls this the “time-pressure paradox”: Standardized time — in which DST is an archaic wrinkle — contributes to a world of labor-saving innovations. But the time they free up is immediately filled by demands for more work, and greater and more varied demands on our attention.