Few experiences are as unsettling as “highway hypnosis”: exiting your car and realizing that you don’t remember anything about how you got to your destination.
Everyone has experienced this phenomenon of “losing time.” We’ve all spaced out in the checkout line, perhaps, or focused on homework or a paper with such intensity that we realize we haven’t blinked in an alarmingly long amount of time.
And yet there’s something about this highway hypnosis that’s especially disorienting. One reason is, of course, fear — we intuitively understand that multi-ton, high-speed machines zipping around with half-focused drivers is, you know, unsafe.
But there’s another reason, I think, that’s equally unsettling, albeit in a subtler way: the sudden realization of how much of us functions without our awareness or control.