Speed Reads

estimated reading time: 5.5 years

The science behind why it feels like it's been a million years since Jan. 20

Does this year feel like it's going really, really slowly? Psychologists say that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for that — and you can blame it all on President Trump.

"In general, it seems that passage-of-time judgments are strongly affected by the number and 'intensity' of 'events' that have occurred in a time period," explained psychologist John Wearden to Vox. "You'd tend to say that the last few months seemed to last a long time if lots had happened, and to be faster if not much had."

To recap, there have been a lot of "events" this year: the Comey testimony, the Comey firing, revelations about Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, dropping the so-called "Mother of All Bombs" on Afghanistan, the health-care debate, special congressional elections in several states, the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Trump's first trip abroad, the president's daily tweets — well, you get the picture.

If you aren't a fan of Trump, your perception of time is probably even worse than that of people who like the president. If an "event" brings about negative emotions, the working hypothesis is that time seems even slower. Psychology professor Michael Flaherty explained that "we pay more attention to our circumstances when conditions are abnormal." And it's this kind of attention that gives us "time markers" — and the more time markers, the more time that feels like has passed.

So no, it has not been five-and-a-half years since you first started reading this post. In fact, it has only been 20 weeks since President Trump was inaugurated.

And 2018? That's probably still a lifetime away.