Why is speed and the ability to act or think quickly so prized? Speed of movement is itself intoxicating – we all love the rush from a very fast car or the shove a plane gives us at take-off, but why? Is it simply that fast movement is rare and often threatening in nature? The sabre toothed cat bounding out from cover to turn us into lunch? The evolutionary memory giving rise to an adrenalin rush that today we find pleasurable?
Why do we prize the ability to move unnecessarily quickly so highly? Why do people pay a lot of money for a car with the ability to reach 150mph, when our speed limit is 70mph and the country is crawling with devices waiting for us to exceed that figure?
In any moderate length journey, if you work out your average speed you will find it is not very high. The ‘gains’ made by travelling fast in short bursts are modest amounts of time, at most a few minutes, balanced by increased stress, higher fuel consumption, greater risk. Yet we all persist with dashing about. Why? Surely this haste is just about really bad life planning. We all claim to be incredibly busy and yet we can all afford to spend hours a day looking at cat videos on the net.
What would our lives be like if the means of travelling fast were simply not available to us? We would live near to our jobs. We would have to take longer vacations to see friends and family. Travel might have to involve such bygone luxuries as dining cars and sleeper trains. We might look out of the window and wonder about where we are. Would this be so bad?