As I type, my body is moving about 550 mph (in an airplane), and I can still do what I would do as if my body were stationary. Moving at such fast speeds is not a big deal in this modern day and age, but it is a big deal when one considers our past. Humans, thanks to technology, move a lot. I don’t think we stop to think about that enough. Perhaps we should, between all the trips we take. In the U.S. an average driver drives 12,000 miles a year. So if you multiply that times 50 years of driving, that accounts for 600,000 miles of body movement. I’m figuring walking adds a few thousand miles. Bicyclists and runners can add tens of thousands of miles to the odometer or pedometer. When you consider people like consultants and salespeople who fly every week and rack up all those frequent flyer miles, they must travel millions and millions of miles in a very short time.
It’s crazy when you think about the fact that naturally speaking, we were probably meant to move a few thousand miles in a lifetime of hunting and gathering. Once farming villages started, that number probably went down. We did do lots of hard work, just within a closer proximity to a home base. Now we are so transient that things like yearly trips across the planet and cruises and long distance relationships are commonplace. And now as space travel becomes part of the private sector, people will travel faster and farther than ever. But then what are the downsides of all this movement? Well, for one thing, when a person walks or even runs, the most damage she can do to her body is a major bruise or a broken bone, (as long as there are no sharp drop-offs around).
Now that machines move people around, death is possible in a split second. But we accept that risk as part of our busy lives. Some people have a hard time comprehending the impact of velocity without control, so they don’t wear seatbelts and helmets. Perhaps it’s because it’s not hardwired in us to worry about high speed collisions. What’s interesting is that technology makes us more mobile but it concurrently enables us to have to travel less. With the advent of the telephone, video teleconferencing and the internet, remote activities are almost as good as they are when done in person. Whether moving and not moving, interaction over broad distances takes energy. Remember a time when we could do things for free without travel or use of technology or energy? I don’t, except for playing with Legos in the basement. But that’s the topic of another blogpost on my list of posts yet to be written.
Here’s a slightly ridiculous theory. If Einstein was correct and movement at speed slows down time and makes you stay younger, then maybe that’s why our life expectancy keeps going up.