His words are rushed, his phrases slurred, his lips moving rapidly as if he’s almost out of breath. He flips to the next slide, and my hand races across the page, trying to keep up. It’s a sprint to the end. Ten minutes left. Molecules and equations and diagrams and questions. Rewind. Play again. Welcome to the world of two times speed.
At Yale, we love two times speed. Late nights, busy mornings, crazy afternoons. Two times speed. You have an hour-long lecture to watch for tomorrow? Watch it at two times speed and suddenly, you’ve created 30 whole new minutes to do something else — start that chemistry problem set, log onto that club zoom, study for that midterm. Maybe even take that long-awaited bathroom break.
For the most part, we’ve managed to convince ourselves that living in this world of two times speed is an absolute no-brainer. There are no downsides. Well, except for the fact that your professors sound slightly insane and incredibly wacky. And, you’ll probably miss all their subtle jokes and little laughs and funky mnemonics. And, you most likely won’t have time to look at your classmates’ tired eyes and sleepy faces. But hey, at least you’ll get to take that bathroom break.
I’d like to believe that the world of two times speed exists only on our screens. Once the lecture ends, everything will go back to normal. Perhaps it’s like one of those far-away fantasy lands in the children’s books. Laying on your bed, book open flat against your pillow, you are transported to that strange whimsical world with green goblins and ugly monsters and sparkly magical creatures. It’s unbelievably abnormal and incomprehensibly unrealistic, but once you shut the book, it doesn’t exist anymore. It was all just a story.
Maybe the world of two times speed is just a story — a story we will tell our children and our grandchildren. But I am not convinced. Because even when the lecture ends and his lips stop moving and the screen turns black, it doesn’t slow down. It’s still a sprint to the end. But this time, there’s no rewind. No play again.
Shove your laptop into your bag, grab your keys, lock the door. Walk quickly, don’t be late. Cross the street. Run. Three seconds before the walk light turns off. You better hurry. Tie your shoe. You wouldn’t want to trip. That would slow you down. Lunchtime? Maybe later. Welcome to the world of two times speed.
Perhaps there’s a special sense of excitement that comes with living in two times speed. Always going somewhere, always doing something, always talking to someone, thinking about someone. Perhaps we love the world of two times speed — the world of “hurry up”s and “don’t be late”s and “almost there”s. Maybe it’s exciting. Or maybe that’s just some lame excuse we use to convince ourselves that this is how it’s meant to be.
I, for one, am still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about the world of two times speed. Racing down the sidewalk with a fresh coffee stain spreading across your T-shirt, trying to settle a disagreement with your friend as you re-read that impossible question on your problem set, looking for the link to office hours while rushing to respond to your mom’s long string of texts. It’s not normal. Laying in bed, thinking about all the things you had to do that you didn’t get to do, all the things you were supposed to finish that you didn’t get to finish, all the people you could’ve met and all the friends you could’ve made if you just hadn’t been so busy. It can’t be normal. But maybe none of us were ever really normal to begin with. Or maybe that’s another lame excuse we use to convince ourselves that this is all okay.
In the end, I like to imagine that we’re all just characters in one of those children’s books, stuck in this strange whimsical fantasy world where everything moves so much faster than it should, this unbelievably abnormal and incomprehensibly unrealistic world of green goblins and ugly monsters and sparkly magical creatures. But, truthfully, I think we’d make for awfully boring characters. Because even if a green goblin were to tap us on the shoulder, I’m not too sure we’d really notice. We’d probably just keep going. Things to do. Places to be. Living in two times speed.
Because when you live in the world of two times speed, you somehow manage to miss all the little things — the way he laughs at jokes that aren’t funny, the way she rolls her eyes and sighs when she’s angry, the way blue turns to grey turns to black as you stay lying on the cold grass, the way the wind blows through your hair and sends goosebumps running past your ear, the way the world is momentarily silent and everything seems to stop for just an instant and finally, you can breathe. Because when you live in the world of two times speed, you miss too many things.
So to all the Yalies stuck living in one of those children’s books, I would tell you to slow down. But I suppose you’ve probably already heard that from someone much older and wiser. What I will say, however, is try 1.5. Try 1.5 and perhaps then, you’ll notice the way he mumbles when he’s annoyed and the way she smiles when she’s excited and the way the world keeps spinning as you stay lying on the now-wet grass. Try 1.5 and hey, you might even have time to take that bathroom break.
Rafaela Kottou | firstname.lastname@example.org