Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Time - take the time to watch it

I recently posted the following statistics on my Facebook page and it created quite a conversation. 

·         Richest 1% of humanity own 40% of global assets
·         Top 5% own 71% of global assets
·         Top 10% own 85% of global assets
·         Top 50% own 99% of global assets
·         Poorest 50% of humanity own 1% of global assets[1]
These statistics have been offered by varied sources and though they may differ slightly they paint the same overall picture.

With this in mind it was a little surreal to watch Andrew Niccol’s In Time last night starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.

Though not the greatest action adventure / sci-fi / thriller that I’ve ever seen in terms of acting, action sequences, special effects and character development it was a stunning movie. In Time provides a poignant illustration of the above statistics.

The movie is set in 2161 where genetic alteration has allowed humanity to stop aging at 25 but people are required to earn more time after turning 25 or die when their accumulated time runs out. 'Living time', which can be transferred among individuals on body-contact, has replaced money and its availability is displayed on an implant on people's lower arm. When that clock reaches zero, one dies instantly. Society is divided by social class living in specialized towns called 'Time Zones'. The poor live in the ghettos of Dayton and must work each day to earn a few more hours of life, which they must also use to pay for everyday necessities. The rich live in the luxurious city-like town called New Greenwich, though they look young because they have stopped aging at 25 years old some are hundreds of years old having “earned”  centuries of time credit. There is only a limited amount of time available to humanity and it has not been distributed evenly.

We live on a finite planet and the resource available to humanity is limited. Some have so much resource available to them they can spend it on luxuries, as the rich spend their time in the movie. Others with limited resource can barely scrap together enough resource to survive another day, again as is the case in the movie.

With this in mind I’d encourage you to watch the moving appreciating that we in the western world are those with a stack of time in the bank, we live in New Greenwich and can so easily spend our time (resource) on unnecessary consumables that may happen to take our fancy. Many in the world live each day hoping to earn a little more time in order to last a little longer.  It’s not a perfect social commentary but it’s worth tuning into it as one.

As you watch the movie, consider how those without time run, while those with time walk. Look out for quotes like…

For a few to be immortal, many must die.
Time is a luxury you can't afford.
Time is money. 

[1] James B. Davies, The World Distribution of Household Wealth, Discussion Paper No. 2008/03 (Helsinki: UNU-WIDER, 2008), pp.7-8.

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