Pause, Blink, and It’s 2023: The Distorted Time Perception During and After The Covid-19 Pandemic

Time paused in 2020, and ever since, someone has been pressing the fast-forward button for a bit too long to the extent that the last three years felt more like a blur. Isn’t it weird how three years have never felt so long while you were experiencing it, but now it all seems like it’s flying away so fast once it ended?

How we perceive and experience time, or time perception, is often mind-boggling. Even when the “duration” of time itself is the same for everyone (e.g. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, etc), it was proved in the 2010 research by Sackett and Meyvis that some days may feel longer or shorter based on several factors, such as our emotions or the number of activities that differ from our routines, because time is subjective. Fear and happiness could make time goes faster, while boredom may slow it down. When we stick to a certain routine, after a while, time will go quicker without us noticing. But spruce things up a little, and at that moment, time wouldn’t go as hurriedly. 

However, the way these last three years went is more extreme than just an hour flying by or a day slipping away. Instead of flying by or slipping away, time was distorted, with it feeling both very fast and very slow simultaneously. In this case, our time perception during the pandemic could be more accurately defined by another keyword: Temporal disintegration.