Last Sunday morning the country of New Zealand (Aotearoa aka the land of the long white cloud) and surrounding islands – yes, even that rebellious recluse of an island – the Chathams, switched over to daylight saving. Ok, so technically it was 2am when it officially switched over, and while you can be sure there were some very pedantic clock changers out there who set their old-school ring-a-ding alarm clocks for 1.55am to change everything at the correct time, most of us normal people just relied on technology to do the heavy lifting – in fact I know some of you were blissfully unaware as daylight saving arrived on the scene, and spent many minutes on Sunday morning wondering how it was lunchtime already but you only just got up (for some that might be every weekend).
Unfortunately for me I live in a house of many clocks, dumb clocks that are not connected to the world wide web and thus have no awareness of the last Sunday in September, or possibly even their place in the cosmos (pity the clocks without purpose). So this means they need to be manually changed. MANUALLY CHANGED!!! Gah, this is 2017 people! I should not be keeping track of the dumb clocks in my house, changing them while I literally watch the remaining seconds of my life tick away – aargh those dumb clocks revel in their quiet revenge.
I know you think I’m overreacting – and to be fair I am, mostly because I leave the clock changing to someone else, seriously I’m not that into time, I don’t even have a watch, I’ve leveled up to the point where my life is so organised and runs like clockwork that time has become irrelevant* – but there are dozens of clocks in my house that need to be changed, let me list a few.
* heat pump remote x 2
* irrigation timer
* car clocks x 2
* antique clocks x like a million
It’s also worth noting that some of these clocks don’t change easily – and going back (when daylight saving ends) is even harder. Oh, gotta find something with a pointy end to hit the clock set button; like seriously UI engineers why did you have to make it so hard? Would it really be the end of the world if someone accidentally slipped into clock changing mode?
*except for 11:11 because there is something pretty special about four ones, and it has nothing to do with singles sales day on aliexpress!
So anyway, after working through the trauma of updating dumb clocks there is the very real harm caused by just shifting clocks (and this goes to my theory that humans should not mess around with time – we all know how much drama it created for the McFly family) but studies have shown (in case you don’t believe me) that there is always an uptick in bad things happening around the change of daylight saving time – car accidents, heart attacks, headaches and dumb mistakes. That’s what happens when you just steal an hour from someone’s sleep, bad things happen. So just don’t do it – let sleeping humans lie.
One thing that’s made the transition harder – and I generally cope ok with timezone changes when traveling – is that we’ve just gone from waking in bright sunshine to being thrown back into pitch darkness, this whole week in Christchurch has been dark and overcast – and it’s thrown everyone’s finely tuned circadian rhythms into some horrible tailspin.
So what do I like about daylight saving?
I know it seems like I’m casting a whole lot of shade on daylight saving (see what I did there) but I do actually look forward to the start of it, and that has something to do with its other name – summer time.
Daylight saving is a little like another milestone in the calendar as we live from summer to summer and that is the winter solstice. The psychological turning point that heralds the approaching days of summer; longer, warmer, less darkness; all the things that keep us humans happy (except for the grumpy human-moles who live full-time playing MMORPGs and hate sunshine – or any bright lights for that matter).
Yes, daylight saving is a pleasant line in the sand (the beach reference is no accident) that says: ‘Great work guys, you made it through another winter, enjoy some extra outside time doing fun stuff like removing all that winter weed growth, converting sausages into carcinogenic black sticks and feeling guilty for being inside and watching tv, while the sun is still shining.’
It’s just a shame that line in the sand is such a mission to drag oneself over – maybe the institution of DST has outlived its usefulness? If it was simply created to save power (which has been disproved, and Ben Franklin who suggested it in the first place meant it only as a joke*) or to stop people’s curtains fading (also a joke) then maybe there are better ways to achieve that?
Maybe we should get rid of DST, remove all the clock confusion and let everyone decide for themselves if they’re going to get up an hour earlier in summer? Of course, if that happened, how would we ever know when to change the batteries in our smoke alarms?
This is too much thinking and now my brain hurts – I’m going back to bed.
*Years earlier in 1895 New Zealand scientist had proposed a 2-hour shift in October and back in March. While never implemented, he has been credited as the inventor of DST.