“TIME THIEVES”— The Puzzle of “Time Poverty”


The Puzzle of “Time Poverty”

Amos Lassen

It seems that the more people try to save time, the less they seem to have to save. Think about some of the things we do today that were once done for us– printing our own boarding passes and checking in our own luggage, assembling a piece of furniture, checking out with an automatic cashier and pumping our own gas. We ask ourselves who should be paying whom for doing all the work? “Time Thieves” is a documentary that travels around the world to investigate how time became a lucrative financial commodity, how the clock has taken over both our working and personal lives, and how we can reclaim control time. Time is the new resource and the documentary investigates how time has become money.

It seems that we are always timed and it is a psychological change. Our time is for everyone, from the boss, from the consumer economy, from the family and health and many people want our time.

 “Thieves of Time” has been a very long journey with the Catalan producer Polar Star Films and director Cosimos Dannorizer. They wanted to make a documentary together and the first idea was about the speed of life and consumption, as well as the speed in political life, where “fast decisions are more populist.” After four years, they decided to focus on time as a resource. The director shows the vision of the perception of time in different countries as “each one takes her way” and “looks for her own solutions.”

Some of the most paradigmatic cases are those that take place in Japan. He recalled there many hours worked there, as in many places, and decided to portray a company, where the boss decided to close the Internet and electricity at nine in the evening so that his workers left home before, but many worked more hours Still, some decided to continue working with lanterns. Another Japanese example is that there was the creation of new holidays so that people had time to eat. The great question throughout the documentary is who is the true thief of the time and we see here that there are many, some are obvious as someone who is made to work on the weekend, but we are also thieves of our time lost in a store or on the Internet “. The objective in the documentary is to create awareness of this situation.

Without realizing it, we have become our own travel agents and cashiers of our supermarket and bank branch; we even take our orders in many restaurants. The capitalist maxim that ensures that time is money takes on a new dimension. Now, in addition to doing overtime in our company, we are at some time of the day workers of others who were previously just customers. In exchange for our time, we receive a reduction in the price of your products. And this is how we increasingly have more complicated schedules.

In principle, time is a biological factor. Even the most remote African tribe depends, even slightly, on time. The problem is that, with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, time became a social factor. Work, quite simply, is an exchange of time for money.


The “partial worker” is a concept that was invented for the documentary. Today, the more we work, the more money we invest in someone who takes care of our children or clean our house.

Those with lower salaries cannot hire such services with which to free themselves from certain tasks. Now there is also the concept of time poverty, which is another social inequality such as economic inequality. The more we get rid of the clock, the more democratic our society will be.


The internet is, together with work and these new companies that “hire” us partially is the great thief of time. We invest up to four hours a day in social networks and then complain that we don’t have time for anything. We do not stop leaving our data, which become a business. The internet may be one of the great thieves of time, but it is also the tool that allows us to fight for the hours and minutes that companies steal from us.

From a collaborative point of view, time banks are a system for exchanging services so that citizens can solve small obstacles to everyday life with the help of their neighbors. There are more and more online and in-person time management courses and mobile applications, such as Wunderlist, that help us better organize our schedules. And not necessarily so that we are more productive for our companies.

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