The Persistent Myth of Speed and "Productivity"
While speed is good, it shouldn't be placed above skills or victory
Speed has tripped the light fantastic in America for more than 85 years. From Ritalin and Adderall to the twice-methylated Breaking Bad stuff, speed seduces both over-bright founders and scurvy garage-dwellers. But it’s not the drug for right now. Speed is not only deadly; it’s defeatist.
It’s been two sobering years. We’d do well to take stock of what we were blind to in the raciest days of Silicon Valley and the government-as-usual Obama years. When the writer Casey Schwartz gave up Adderall after having it define her youth, she identified deep regrets: “I had spent years of my life in a state of false intensity, always wondering if I should be somewhere else, working harder, achieving more.” America is plenty intense—and it requires more freethinking from its citizens now than ever. It’s time for a reckoning with reality, reflection and reform, principled action. It’s also a time for civil disobedience. As grandiose as Adderall makes some people feel, the history of amphetamine as a drug of subjugation—used to compel obedience in soldiers, dieters, and unruly kids—haunts it.
In 1933, 46 years after Lazăr Edeleanu, a Romanian chemist, fatefully synthesized amphetamine—a mix of mirror-image molecules, levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine—Smith, Kline & French picked it up and sold it as Benzedrine. Wouldn’t you know, enterprising hacker-tweakers soon prised open the inhalers, liberated the speed-soaked cotton strips, and swallowed them.
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