This Island Wants to Completely Abolish the Concept of Time for Part of the Year

It's tough to imagine our world without the concept of time. Would everyone just go to work on their own schedule?

Sommarøy, Norway
Sommarøy, Norway

It's tough to imagine our world without the concept of time. Would everyone just go to work on their own schedule? How would you know when to show up to the airport? Would your cool watchband tan-line just... disappear? It's an alternate reality that's almost too crazy to ponder, yet one town in Norway has, and is now pushing to abolish the concept of time entirely for part of the year.

Residents of the Norwegian island of Sommarøy, which sits high above the Arctic Circle, are pushing to establish a "time-free" zone during the summer, when the sun doesn't set for a whopping 69 consecutive days. The move would enable them to ditch traditional business hours and conventional time-keeping in favor of enjoying the endless daylight as they wish, according to an AP report. In other words, it would enable everyone living there to maximize their time with the sun to compensate for the extended months-long stretch of consecutive nighttime they endure during the winter.

As you might imagine, though, going "time-free" isn't that simple.

“It’s a bit crazy, but at the same it is pretty serious,” resident Kjell Ove Hveding told the AP about the initiative. Hveding recently met with a Norwegian lawmaker to present the petition -- signed by dozens of other residents -- that pushes to abolish time on the island during the "midnight sun" period, which lasts from May 18 to July 26. 

In addition to giving folks more of an opportunity to soak up vitamin D when available, it would also help eliminate stress, according to Hveding.

"The idea is also to chill out," he said. "I have seen people suffering from stress because they were pressed by time." (Something tells us that's not a problem unique to Sommarøy.)

Even though the island has a modest population of just 350 people, ditching time altogether may pose too many logistical challenges to actually be feasible.

"We likely won’t become an entirely time-free zone as it will be too complex,” Hveding said. “But we have put the time element on the agenda, and we might get more flexibility... to adjust to the daylight.”

Honestly, though, we're pulling for Sommarøy to get this done. The world could afford to have at least one place where you can escape time.


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.