This letter was harder to write than I imagined it would be. How do I write a love letter to you? How do I succinctly and affectively communicate what you mean to me and why you mean so much to me? How do I translate into words what is it that we DO? How do I ensure I do what we do justice with this letter? How do I ensure that the love I feel for you manifest materially along these lines? I am spiraling. I am anxious. I am letting external measuring criteria confine us. I am judging instead of loving. I am deviating from us. Let me try again.
This is a love letter to you. You, SCRAM, are a place to me. A place made up by familiar faces, warm bodies, affective energies, chill screens, visiting pets, connected signals, visual cues, shared locations, broken interfaces, generous intellects, cold drinks, vivacious laughter, confused looks, intimidating circumstances, horrifying stories, caring words, and time spent. You are a place in time, where I spent a lot of time, and a place where I want to spend more time. Time, and time again.
Like those times. I am reminded to think and speak primarily to you, and you alone. Like those times, when you showed me that it is each other and the people we hold and carry by extension that makes our work matter. Like those times, when you taught me how to make the disembodied structures work for our survival instead of the other way around. Like those times, when I joined our scheduled meeting late because of other obligations and I was feeling completely annoyed at myself for not meeting the expectations of time keeping I have internalized and held for myself, I was not met with contempt but instead smiles. Like those times, when you told me, “you’re just in time!”
What does it mean to be just in time? What happens when we’re not in time? Time is a commodity. Time is measured to calculate our outputs. Time is managed to maximize production. Time is used to evaluate our worth. Time is a technology that is used to organize us and that we use to organize ourselves. We use this technology to project scripts for how we ought to or should orient ourselves from one moment to the next. It is a narrative we write to bridge past, present, and future. When combined with other technologies that prescribe priorities for capital accumulation and circulation, time is most often an internalized parameter for disciplining our bodies to serve. But the question is, serving what and whom?
I admit, I didn’t and don’t always use time to serve you, me, or us. I have come to realize how much I am bounded by time, or perhaps the lack thereof. I am scared, a lot of the times. I am scared of standing out when I interrupt the room full of people for arriving late. I am scared that my brother will wither away there while I am lost trying to find my way here. I am scared that I am doing this wrong. I am scared that one semester is not enough to convince my students that representation in games does matter. I am scared that I am a traitor for spending time over here instead of over there. I am scared of that tenure clock that keeps ticking while I can’t get words out onto pieces of paper. I am scared that I am not working hard enough and fast enough to stop harm from happening. I am scared that I am working too hard and too fast that harms. Most importantly, I am scared that I am not using enough time to serve those I love and believe in, like yourself.
What does it mean to be just in time? More importantly, what does it mean to be told that you’re just in time when other markers of time indicate otherwise? It provides validation for one’s presence and that presence alone. It disregards other preconceived notions about time to emphasize the present. It stops time in the sense that it disentangles time from other technologies that we devise to serve an ambiguous end. It recenters time to serve the bodies that are present. It calls our attention to recognize that we made it to share this moment in time and this time is not a given. Instead, it is a present. It is a present we keep on giving each other. It demands us to forgo previous expectations, disciplined responses, and internalized critiques about time to consider what we want to and could do with this found time. We made it! Yes, and?
Note: Written while thinking about you and Wajcman, J. (2015). Pressed for time: The acceleration of life in digital capitalism. University of Chicago Press.