Do we know how to grasp what changes in small habits and see in them what speaks volumes about who we are or who we are becoming? Do we know how to read, in imperceptible changes in behaviour, the major mutations at work in the bowels of our societies?
For example, do we realise that many young people, almost everywhere in the world, almost never listen to a live radio station anymore: they listen to podcasts or songs at their own time; they never watch television anymore (except for sports): they watch it when they decide to see videos, clips, programmes or films on a platform. Each of them thus has much better control over their access to the various media.
Communication with others is also much better controlled than it used to be: Many, especially among the young, no longer answer the phone if they have not been warned in advance of a call; they no longer listen to audio messages received on the phone, and in return, no longer leave any; they prefer to read written messages, when they want to, even if it is only to make an appointment to talk to each other; hence the growing vogue for countless written messaging (SMS, WhatsApp, Telegram. ) or video (Skype, Zoom, Teams).
This is less anecdotal than it seems: it probably means that a part of the youth has understood that time is the supreme value and that one of the greatest struggles of today is to choose with whom we want to share it and when we want to share it. This heralds a society where we will no longer let ourselves be invaded by others; where we will keep control of our time as much as we can; where we will resist the acceleration of time and information; where we will take our time; where we will respond when we want to; where we will choose the pace at which we wish to live; where we will no longer wait impatiently for the other. And, conversely, a society where we no longer invade the time of others.
And this is even one of the most beautiful definitions of love: To love someone is to be happy to be invaded by him or her.
However, there are still many people with whom we cannot refuse to exchange: those who have hierarchical power over us, the only ones whose calls we are obliged to take. One could even say that the definition of a leader is one who can invade the time of others; economic leaders, administrative leaders, political leaders, police leaders; but also other leaders, whose calls we have recently learned to hear at the first sign: the carers.
The great battle of the day is to reduce these constraints; to reduce the number of chiefs to whom we are obliged to obey. At work, more and more people are rejecting the alienation based on the expropriation of the product of one’s time and on the right of a boss to set schedules and make people accountable in the moment; teleworking favours this liberation of time, by making it easier not to answer to one’s boss in the moment; Moreover, a growing number of young people are refusing, as soon as they can, to join a company; they prefer to work on their own and take the risk of failure rather than have to submit their time to the whims of a hierarchy.
Similarly, in love, or what takes the place of love, many people, and more and more of them, refuse to let the other person control their time; it is even one of the major dimensions of the feminist struggle to refuse to let men have control of women’s time as much as of their bodies.
And this is not the end of the story. The desire to control one’s own time will soon take on even greater proportions. In countless areas.
Will it always be liberating? Are we really creating a society of people who are free because they are masters of their time? Or, on the contrary, a society of independent juxtaposed egoists, of undisciplined loners?
And more : can we really imagine “making society” if we do not agree to give others access to part of our own time? If we refuse what is essential to life, i.e. conversation?