The PJ Tatler

Who Ever Thought Daylight Saving Time Was a Good Idea?

Not me; it’s just a huge, arbitrary pain in the neck. And not Alexander Abad-Santos in The Atlantic, either:

Daylight Saving Time is the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people. And this weekend, the effect of this cruel monster will rear its ugly head again. On Sunday morning, Americans across the country will have to set their clocks back one hour, and next week, the sun will begin its ambling lurch to eventually setting at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Technically-speaking, this sleep cycle-wrecking practice of setting our clocks back is because we will be going back to Standard Time after our flirty summer with DST. And the unsettling shift back to these hours, and the hour “we gain,” is the back-end of the time-bargain we have to pay for setting our clocks forward in March to “maximize daylight”—a phrase probably better suited to organisms that rely on photosynthesis—during the spring and summer hours.

Why we try and “maximize daylight” like we’re plants is actually an archaic practice first thought up in the late 1700s and often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. As some elementary school teacher may have explained to you, this was a practice to accommodate agricultural workers and farmers (wrong, and we’ll get to this in a minute) or lower the nation’s electricity usage.

A lot of that is prime b.s. There is actually no benefit or rhyme or reason we have to endure this weekend’s time shift and no reason we should even be playing with the idea of losing and gaining hours. Here’s why:

There follows a compelling list of reasons why DST (or as we call it here in Ireland, British Summer Time) is a load of codswallop, beginning with the myth that we do it for the yeoman farmers, manfully pushing a plow so that the rest of us might eat and go to the beach. The list includes minimal energy savings, the effects on the body’s diurnal rhythms, a negative economic impact on global trade and, most of all, that awful moment when we “spring forward.”

The only reason it persists, it seems to me, is that low-latitude America is jealous of the long European summer nights and wants to squeeze every bit of vacation sunlight out of its time at the Jersey Shore. Sorry: not good enough.

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