4,000 Weeks

POSTED: August 8, 2021

I read a long form essay in The Guardian by Oliver Burkeman, which I learned at the end formed an extract from his new book.

The book has the title 4,000 Weeks because the “average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short. Here’s one way of putting things in perspective: the first modern humans appeared on the plains of Africa at least 200,000 years ago, and scientists estimate that life, in some form, will persist for another 1.5bn years or more, until the intensifying heat of the sun condemns the last organism to death. But you? Assuming you live to be 80, you’ll have had about 4,000 weeks”.

The essay concerns itself with the distractions we face as part of the so-called “attention economy”, and makes very interesting reading. The general idea has had lots of previous outings, but Burkeman draws together a range of interesting anecdotes and examples, and tells them well.

The title of the book struck me most immediately however. I had never actually counted the number of weeks in the average human lifespan (oddly enough, because Auo and I used to do just that sort of thing).

4,000 weeks: not a lot really.