I have realized that by simply changing a label, I can be deceived into believing anything that better aligns with my interests, whether that be gaining an extra hour of daylight or an extra day of eating my Cheerios with milk. Twice a year, Daylight Saving Time makes me question my intelligence. One, because I still mistakenly call it Daylight Savings, with an extra “s” in “savings” — no matter how many times AP style corrects me — and two, it gives me the feeling that I am feeding myself a convenient fiction.
The sun now appears to rise and set earlier than it did 48 hours ago. This time change is agreeable with my schedule, as I no longer have to bump into my fridge every morning and solemnly eat breakfast in the dark. But of course this is no coincidence — the measurement of time is largely a man-made construct and has been tailored to accommodate to man himself.
During World War I, people realized that they could simply change the time in spring to get an extra hour of sunlight and save energy for wartime production. Between wars and after World War II, Daylight Saving was practiced on a state-by-state basis until it became nationally standardized in 1966. In 2007, the interval between moving the clocks forward in spring and backward in fall was lengthened by four weeks, due to environmentalist cries that 100,000 barrels of oil could be saved per each day the period was extended.
It disconcerts me to know that while the national government can regulate such mundane issues as the sale of defective items at garage sales, it can also change how an entire nation (aside from the rebel states Hawaii and Arizona) perceives time. Moving a clock’s hour hand back does not literally alter the course of time. If Congress suddenly declared this month to be December and not November, I would not be surprised if people unhesitatingly concurred while exulting in Christmas’ quicker arrival.
When it comes down to it, Daylight Saving is basically a lie that we tell ourselves to better suit our needs. An extra hour of daylight in the springtime is pleasant, and helps us cut down our electricity bills. No one likes to commute in the darkness every fall morning, and it’s a hassle to stumble over bushes in the dark while walking home in the spring evenings. Since the practice is advantageous and has been as regular an occurrence as the changing of the leaves every autumn, people don’t think twice about it actually being a falsehood.
Whether or not we questioned the validity of turning our clocks back, we all benefited from the extra hour last weekend. Most certainly, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney must be cheering for the extra 60 minutes they get to vie for votes before Election Day tomorrow.