This past weekend marked the continuation of one of the most annoying biannual rituals in America. We once again changed our clocks to adjust for Daylight Savings Time. I understand it’s a practice that most of us have been doing all our lives. We’re so used to it that, for the most part, we see it as a temporary annoyance more than anything else.
But beyond the annoyance, this practice is one of those various things that have no practical use, yet we still continue to do. And the more we do it, the less sense it makes. I know because I’ve tried to explain why we do Daylight Savings Time to people from other countries. Their reactions are usually quite telling. I don’t deny that America has many strange practices and traditions, but Daylight Savings Time is definitely one of the strangest, at least in a contemporary sense.
Now, there was a time when Daylight Savings had a practical use. When it was passed by the United States in 1918, it was actually part of a larger trend among industrialized nations at the time. Canada and various countries in Europe had adopted similar practices for similar reasons. The idea was to adjust clocks so that criticizes had more waking hours in sunlight, which reduced energy consumption. This was also done to coincide sunlight with the standard working schedule that had emerged during that era, which was dominated largely by industrial labor.
Whether Daylight Savings achieved this goal or not, it made some sense at the time. In an era when work and scheduled were much more regimented, it made sense to align these schedules with daylight hours to the greatest extent possible, especially for regions at higher latitudes. However, there’s not much evidence that Daylight Savings time has a tangible benefit in that regard. In some instances, it may even be detrimental.
That alone should be cause enough to consider ending the practice. And people far smarter than me have already made plenty of valid arguments towards ending it. Here’s just one video that nicely lays it out.
Even if you don’t fully agree with all these points, there’s one other I’d like to offer and I think it’s the most important.
Getting rid of Daylight Savings Time would be a solid demonstration that we, as a society, can end practices that no longer make sense and no longer offer any tangible benefits. That, more than anything else, is a good reason to do it.
Beyond the fact that the practice is wildly unpopular, regardless of political leanings, plenty of other countries have decided to end it and have not had many ill effects. They saw that this practice just wasn’t incurring any benefits and maintaining it just made no sense. So, why keep doing it? Why continue a practice that only ever succeeds in annoying or inconveniencing people?
Doing it because it’s just something we’ve always done is not a valid reason. If anything, that’s quite possibly the worst excuse for continuing anything that has no tangible benefit. And in this case, there’s reason to believe it does more harm than good. Ending this practice might make things a little strange during the times of the year when the days are really short or really long, but that’s easier to adapt to because it’s less abrupt and jarring.
Let’s at least prove to ourselves that we can stop or change practices like this. We can end a dumb, outdated, annoying tradition that few care for. It’s not a serious or overly controversial issue. And if we can’t somehow figure out a way to stop, then we have much bigger problems than losing an hour of sleep every spring.