The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: Speed kills: high efficiency leads to destructive behavior

Dan+Hahn+is+a+graduate+student+studying+English+and+can+be+reached+at+217-581-2812.
Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Learning how to maximize effort while in college is certainly important. Though, I have noticed that efficiency and life-hacking is often pursued without reflection. I am guilty of hurrying through my tasks, and we are constantly impressed upon to maximize our productivity, optimize our time, and achieve the most we can every day.

Who can truly blame us? College provides many opportunities to pursue interesting ideas, lifestyle choices, and new relationships.

Efficiency has merits, but we must not overlook the mindset we adopt in its wake, as well as the negative consequences of prioritizing efficiency over a slower pace.

In my mind, the term “efficiency” invokes business and economics, so let us invoke another term from economics: “externalities.” Externalities are a fundamental concept that refer to the unintended costs inflicted on third parties as a result of economic activities.

In the pursuit of efficiency, good meaning people prioritize speed, but end produce sloppy and careless behavior. We become rushed, are short with friends and loved ones, and behave erratically.

I do not spend a lot of time commuting, but I observe people on the roadways, and I can always tell when drivers are overly focused on speed and efficiency. These are the people that overlook pedestrians, stop lights, speed limits, and common courtesy.

According to the CDC: “Motor vehicle crashes are preventable but continue to be a leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in an average of 36,791 deaths each year (101 deaths each day) during 2015–2019.”

I think we have all witnessed others text and drive, cut off of other drivers, and run red lights. We have seen the embarrassing spectacle of road rage, and sometimes it even happens to ourselves or loved ones.

I do not think that people want to hurt others intentionally, which is why it is so difficult to understand well meaning individuals demonstrating dangerous behavior. Society’s problems are complicated, but I think much of the problem is most people embrace a mantra of “speed is good” and “more is better.”

We also cannot forget that the constant demand for productivity leads to externalities off the roadways. These are personal tolls that include burnout, poor mental health, and diminished interpersonal relationships.

When we are focused on efficiency and productivity, our attention becomes scattered, and our interactions with others are accelerated, transactional and shallow.

Prioritization of tasks over human connection creates not only dangerous roadways but toxicity in our discourse, leading to aggression towards strangers, loneliness and detachment.

The CDC states that social isolation “significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity”

College students should take advantage of a slow pace of life and envision the pace and tempo of their ideal lives. Then they should go make it a reality. Being an adult is hard, and living a fast-paced life can be lonely and personally unhealthy at minimum, and in fact deadly at worst.

Dan Hahn can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn, Columnist
Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 581-2812.

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