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The lost art of anticipation….

July 17, 2011

I read this article recently about how 24 hour society is damaging to our internal clocks.

There was one particular quote that made me think:

“Humans have embraced the freedom to do what we want, when we want. Our 24/7 society has invaded and subjugated the night, an apparent victory of civilisation over nature. But the reality is that our society is replacing a biological order, honed by millions of years of evolution, with an illusion.”

I wonder just how far 24 hour culture – which demands that everything is available instantly and is always on – has affected our internal clocks not just in terms of a single day, but also our ability to anticipate things in the longer term.

This weekend I saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. The film has only just started filming, and isn’t due out for a year.  And last week a book that I have been waiting on for 6 years finally got published. (There’s still 2 more to go – so here’s hoping we’ll have the full set by 2024.)

It begs the question, what is the optimum length of time to build up anticipation? Are we able to just sit back and wait for things in the same way that we once were?

We’ve moved from a culture where you’d wait for news to arrive word of mouth, to newspapers reporting on the previous day’s events, to one where Twitter can predict earthquakes more quickly than seismologists.

Does the expectation of “freedom to do what we want, when we want” also include a sense of entitlement to be able to get involved and be part of what is happening?

When The Dark Knight was released the level of anticipation built up through the online campaign, allowing fans to get involved and uncover hints for themselves.  It looks as though the next film is set to follow in the footsteps, with a recent Twitter campaign allowing fans to uncover Tom Hardy’s Bane through hash tag #thefirerises.

Can they sustain this for a full year? Or have our attention spans shrunk?

(Picture from Warner Bros and thedarkknightrises.com)

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