Daylight savings time (DST) is something that happens twice a year — we spring forward and we fall back, but why do we do it? It has always been a mystifying idea to me that we get to designate how much light we have in a day. It is a powerful but mostly bizarre concept. There are states and U.S. territories who choose to ignore DST changes, and it’s perplexing to consider any ideas behind daylight savings that are strong enough for millions to change their clocks twice a year, especially when most don’t even know why it was done in the first place.
Although there are many theories behind the origins of daylight savings time, I personally love the conspiracy theory that daylight savings came to be in order to add a little boost to the economy. Such a philosophy makes sense when you consider that people will be more inclined and able to spend money on tourist activities and other things like recreation, dining, and shopping when there is more daylight.
There is also a common misconception in thinking that William Willet, a British architect, was the first person to propose DST. He thought that it would save on electricity, gas, candles, etc.
But unfortunately for all of those conspiracy lovers and William Willett fans (if any exist), spending and saving money are not the reasons DST was established. The real reason daylight savings time was started was thanks to British astronomer and entomologist George Hudson, who wanted more daylight in the afternoon to collect bugs.
But why did this bug guy have the authority to alter the previously consistent concept of time? He didn’t. By word of mouth, a member of parliament named Richard Pearce heard about this idea, liked it, and then introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. To make things easier, the bill was revised to be a one time, one hour change, instead of four 20 minute changes in each month.
To correct another commonly accepted ideas about DST, many think that farmers were also responsible for founding the initial idea. In reality, it was farmers who opposed the bill. They considered the time change to be a huge inconvenience for their farming routine.
Arizona, Hawaii, and many U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands simply ignore daylight savings time all together. These places avoid the danger of DSP; statistics reveal that an increased amount of heart attacks and car accidents correlate to people operating on one less hour of sleep due to DST, an alarming and twistedly humorous fact. While some choose to ignore this bizarre normality, others’ lives are completely in shambles due to an hour change in what is “common time.”
It is incredible that this time change idea went over so smoothly in 1908 and still persists today. Perhaps it’s because people don’t mind to take time out of their busy lives to undo what has turned into a robotic habit of turning clocks. Or maybe daylight savings time is one of the best existing examples displaying the strength of conformity in our society. We should hope that the inconsistencies between people who adhere to DST time changes and people who don’t will be enough to perpetuate a final end to daylight savings time and all of the confusion it brings us.