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Why I Stay With Analog Clocks
A reader sent me a piece from The New York Times Magazine, published a few weeks ago, about analog clocks.
Right at the beginning, the writer said that her younger sister (by only ten years) did not know how to read an analog clock! "No doubt that skill is disappearing from the populace," she said, "Along with an avalanche of others: driving a stick shift, writing by hand, navigating by memory, using stamps."
And then the next paragraph was devoted entirely to instructions for reading an analog clock.
My body will be 65 in a few weeks. For the past ten years or so I've been noticing that phenomenon that happens when you age where so much has changed that familiar things you expect are no longer there. But it just never occurred to me that someone would not learn to read an analog clock, since there are still so many of them.
Stick shifts on cars. Well, I will be very sad if one day there are no longer stick shifts on sports cars. Not only are they more fuel efficient, but they give the driver control. Yes, you have to have skill to drive one, but it's not that difficult to learn. I'm for things that give the user control, rather than having it done for me by a machine—like stick shifts and cooking for myself, and reading an analog clock.
I learned to tell time on an analog clock. In 1970 when the first digital LED displays became available I didn’t like them. And I still don’t like them.
The reason I love analog clocks and dislike digital is that with an analog clock I can see, and therefore feel, time passing. As the minute hand moves around the circle I can see five minutes have passed as it moves from number 2 to number three. And I also know there is a lot of time before someone is going to call me on the next hour.
With an analog clock I can see time moving through space, much like I can see the sun moving across the sky. It gives me a background of time and space: space is there in the background and there is something moving across it. Just like in nature.
The changing numbers on a digital clock are just changing numbers to me. There is no sense of time passing or where you are in relation to other points in time. Am I on time or late or early? I can tell at a glance with an analog clock.
An analog clock is actually a mechanical version of a sundial. Though a sundial is only half of a clock face, it produces a shadow of a line that moves through the numbers as the day progresses, giving the same sense of watching time move through the day.
I am forced to relate to digital on my computer, but everywhere else, I’m staying with analog. It just keeps me more connected to time moving through my day.