Originally appeared in The Platte County Landmark.
It’s nearly impossible to get everybody at my work to do something. When it’s “casual Friday,” there are still people that wear a suit. When it’s ham and bean soup in the cafeteria, only a fraction go with that choice. When I remind everyone to finish their TPS reports on time, nearly nobody does.
It’s not just my co-workers. It’s the grocery store where you have dozens of flavors of soda pop and enough BBQ sauce versions to confuse you for hours. And yet, twice a year, everyone in the human race does one thing all at the same time – and nobody knows why. Once in the spring and once in the fall, we change our entire timing system by moving our clocks forward and back without so much as a grumble.
Our parents did it because their parents told them to. And we tell the same to our children. Spring Forward!! Fall Back!! Twice a year for a week, we do the post-time change math in our heads. (I would be going to sleep right now if it were last week.) And we all try to remember how to change the clock in your wife’s car. (Hint: Hit MENU four times, then turn the knob while standing on your foot.)
The change was originally proposed by a New Zealender; George Hudson proposed it to allow for more sunlight during prime times in the summer and also conserve energy as folks typically eat during the 6:00 hour, for instance. The same would go for those that work the land. If that 6:00 pm is a daylight hour later, you will allow for the sun’s rays to light your day instead of coal-powered lights. The practice of changing to allow for more daylight became popular during the energy crisis of the 1970’s. It has been argued that DST saves 1% of energy usage in the United States per year.
But we’re not just talking about farmers and restaurants – Daylight Savings Time is practiced in nearly every time zone and impacts millions of people. That’s millions of people who peacefully execute a command – which is kind of cool on the one hand – but incredibly disruptive on the other. In the spring in particular, the time change steals an hour of sleep from millions of people only to return that hour in the fall.
WIkipedia says that the time change helps those in industrialized societies that follow a clock-based schedule. But in the computerized age, this actually causes more problems. Just this weekend, hundreds of Cerner employees, for example, had to work to monitor their hospital systems to make sure the medications weren’t dispensed twice as there were two 1:00 am hours. Add to that the complexity of areas of the world that do not recognize Daylight Savings Time – including Arizona and Hawaii.
There are efforts underway to eliminate Daylight Savings Time, but it seems they don’t have quite the traction as saving the Kardashian’s TV show from cancellation. It’s all about priorities after all, and humans don’t seem that put out by it – expect for twice a year – as we all do what our mothers and fathers taught us without much care.
If you ask me, I’d much rather prefer permanently taking that extra hour of sleep rather than spending it on the Kardashians.