Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

How do you perceive time? Viral TikTok video explains the different ways people interpret the clock

Do you have an ego-moving or time-moving perspective?

Canadian science influencer Gregory Brown has explained the two different ways that people see time in a new viral video. TikTok / AsapScience
Canadian science influencer Gregory Brown has explained the two different ways that people see time in a new viral video. TikTok / AsapScience

It's possible that you interpret time differently from your friends and family.

A new video by AsapScience a YouTube and TikTok channel created by Canadian science content creators, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown – explains the different ways people see time, and it is dividing the internet.

"You may not know this, but there are only two ways in which we humans perceive time, and I am [going to] ask you a question so you can find out which one you are," says Brown in the 48-second video, which had more than three million views at the time of writing.

Science content creator, Gregory Brown. TikTok / AsapScience 
Science content creator, Gregory Brown. TikTok / AsapScience

"If I tell you that Wednesday's noon meeting has been moved forward by two hours, do you now think the meeting is at 2pm or at 10am?"

Brown then explains the two interpretations of time.

"If you think the meeting's at 2pm, that means you have an ego-moving perspective of time. You see yourself as moving forward through time," he explains.

"If you now think the meeting is at 10am, this means you have the time-moving perspective of time. You see yourself as stagnant, [with] time moving forward towards you."

He concludes the video by acknowledging that it's going to unite and divide viewers.

"Now, you might think that this is insane, that someone even sees the world, or time, differently than you, but it's true," he says. "So, ask your friends, ask your family this question and bond with them ... or find out that they actually see the world completely differently."

Watch AsapScience's video in full here:

The video has been posted to Twitter and, naturally, it has divided users.

"No. The word 'forward' in no way implies an EARLIER time than 10. The ONLY answer is 2:00pm. Stop," writes @Mikamouth, a Twitter user with an ego-moving perspective of time.

Judging by the comments, there seems to be a fairly equal divide between ego-moving and time-moving perspectives in the world.

One Dubai Twitter user, who has a time-moving perspective, tried to break it down.

"People say 'bring forward 2 hours' and 'push back 2 hours'. If you bring something forward, it's at the front... earlier. If you push something back, like a deadline... it's later. There is no way it can't be 10am," wrote Kiera Doherty (@kikipigeon).

She added: "Also... can someone clever fact check these terms?!"

We have.

Ego-moving and time-moving perspectives are psycholinguistic terms that come under perceptions of fictive motion, which is "the metaphorical motion of an object or abstraction through space".

Dedre Gentner, American cognitive and developmental psychologist, explains in The Analogical Mind: Perspectives from Cognitive Science: "[With] the ego-moving metaphor, the observer's context progresses along the timeline towards the future, and [with] the time-moving metaphor ... time is conceived of as a river or conveyor belt on which events are moving from the future to the past."

Updated: June 22, 2020 10:56 AM

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