Social Constructs: Time and Distance

What is time? What is distance? What is life?


Denis Mardesich, Staff Writer

Time, it’s something that you, and everyone else around you use almost every single day. In fact, one of the most common questions in the world is, “What time is it?” To you it probably seems like a simple question that you ask and are asked almost every single day. It seems like an easy question when compared to a question such as “What is life?” however that is not the truth.

The same can be said about distance, government, education, and some might even argue religion. This is because these are human concepts, more commonly known as social constructs, which are things that are or were ‘constructed’ by humans through many years of social and cultural practice.

Many devices have been found throughout history to measure time and distance, even Neolithic people are believed to have used the moon to tell time. In Ancient Egyptian society, early versions of the sundial were found as well as an ancient water clock known as the clepsydra that was found in the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep that is known as the most accurate early time telling device.

Devices that were meant to tell and measure distance were found in Ancient Greece such as the Schoinion which was a cord that had the length of 100 cubits (ancient units of distance), the halysis which was a metal chain, and the kalamos which was a rod of weed or wood.

Mr. Boysen What people who have authority such as aristocrats and leaders would’ve thought of it“What any group of people thinks about time ends up being a result of them interacting with each other and socialization processes,” says University of Missouri management scholar Allen Bluedorn when asked about time.

Thus, this means that time is a human concept, this means that your opinion on time is based on what you were told or taught by others. Therefore, if you never heard of time you wouldn’t know it existed, however you might create your own construct that is very similar to time.

“I suppose time was created based on what figures of authority such as aristocrats, kings, and leaders thought of it at the time” says 6th grade STEAM history teacher Mr. Boysen.

So as you may not have known, many things that we use everyday are social constructions. Including time, distance, and even friendship. Things you have used every single day aren’t even real. However this does not mean that they are not useful.

In fact these things are some of the most useful resources we have. For example, time is a perfect way to schedule things, distance is a good way to compare things, and many human concepts work to bring people together.