Would You Live on an Island With No Clocks?

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Consider this: You wake up because it’s light outside. You have no idea what time it is, and you will never know what time it is exactly, because there are no clocks, no alarms, and no smartwatches anywhere. You simply go about your day, doing whatever you want, and everyone else does the same. It could be chaos—or it could be total freedom from the man-made constructs of time. Do you stay or do you get out of there as fast as possible?

It’s a trick question. You can’t leave because how would you even know what time to get to the airport? This is just one of the scenarios that comes to mind when I read about the residents on the Norwegian island of Sommaroy, who are proposing abolishing clocks on the island, per the New York Times. Because Sommaroy has roughly two months during the summer when the sun never sets, they have found that clocks are not especially useful to them anymore.


Unlike the anarchist utopia I described above, Sommaroy without clocks would still have some rules, which is a bummer to me, personally:

Time would still exist for most everyone else, in some form or another: Workers would still have to clock in for their jobs. Classes at the local school, students will be relieved to know, would not go on forever. Even tourists would still have to check out of their hotel rooms, preferably on time.

“We would still have to go to work or school,” said Goran Mikkelsen, a digital marketing ambassador at the only hotel on the island, the Sommaroy Arctic. “It is more about the mind-set.”

But many people on Sommaroy already live their life on an ad-hoc basis, so doing away with clocks would be more of a formality than a groundbreaking change in the way business is conducted:

The grocery store officially has fixed opening hours, but Mr. Hveding and Mr. Mikkelsen said it already opens whenever it’s needed. The local cafe’s hours are also flexible.

Making plans on Sommaroy would not change either, as many residents already do not use fixed times. “You never say, ‘I will come by at 6 o’clock exactly.’ We always just say, ‘Later,’” Mr. Mikkelsen said.


Imagine that. You’d never be late again. You could go grocery shopping whenever you wanted! This is the original on-demand economy. I understand it’s not for everyone, but I would move in a heartbeat, set up shop on the shore, and read all the books I never got around to reading. Whatever else I’ve got going on ““tomorrow”” can wait.

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