vol. 2018.11.1 목 16:11 updated
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Does Only an Early Bird Catch a Worm?
2018년 11월 01일 (목) 15:25:26 GLOBE globe@jbnu.ac.kr

There is an expression 'an early bird catches a worm.' This expression is widely used to mean that a diligent person can benefit or take a chance. So people used to say that we should be early birds to catch worms, mentioning it.
Then, what happens to the birds that do not get up early? They can’t catch any worm? As an early bird catches an early worm, a late bird can catch a late worm, I think. For every creature including birds and human, there is a limit to the energy that can be devoted. Early birds cannot help spending more energy, so they will get tired sooner than late birds. On the other hand, the late birds can last longer than the early birds. That is, the early bird like a lark can catch more worms in the early morning, but the late bird like an owl can catch worms even late at night.
Like the case of birds, there are two types of people too, so-called 'morning person' and 'night person.' There are people who work efficiently in the morning and who are in the best condition to work in the afternoon. However, most people usually consider the morning person to be a diligent person who works hard from early in the morning and the night person to be a lazy man, referring to the expression ‘an early bird catches a worm.' They think that the morning person is a more productive and better person than the night person. Is it true?
In past agricultural society, diligence was regarded as a virtue, because the primary industry including agriculture was the main source of income in that period. Because people had to utilize the natural environment directly in that time, and because of the lack of skills, there were time and environmental limits. Particularly in agriculture, which was the main industry, people could not work at night due to these limitations, similar to the case of previous hunting and gathering. So, the earlier people got up in the morning and the earlier they started work, the higher output they could get.
But now, are early birds still better than late birds? From modernization to modern times, people's jobs have diversified. There are still some people in the primary industry, but as the more jobs were created, the more people were engaged in the secondary and tertiary industries. It caused a shift from labor-intensive to knowledge-intensive. In current society, compared to the past, the work hours are relatively not fixed and the quality is regarded as more important thing than the amount of work. And it needs a person who has the ability to perform effectively rather than just a diligent person. Of course, the virtue of the diligent early bird is still important in certain jobs. In these jobs, being an early bird is a good way to catch worms. However, in other occupations, although the person is not an early bird, if he or she has a lot of brilliant ideas or performs well, it is a worthwhile in itself and he or she deserves of admiration.
For example, suppose there are two people, A and B. A is more diligent and industrious than B, so he works more time than B. However, B is more capable and more strategic than A, resulting more than A, even with less time. We can find many cases like this around us, such as friends receiving good grades compared to their efforts, thanks to their smartness or some abilities to study efficiently. Therefore, for this case, we can see that the early bird is not necessarily better than the others.
Also, let's assume that there are two people, C and D, who have the same amount of work that can be done per day. C is a typical early bird who wakes up early, finishes work in the early evening and then goes to bed early. D, on the other hand, gets up late, works late until the night and goes to bed late. Can we consider C as a better person because C is an early bird, even though the workload of these two people is exactly the same? It will not.
In addition to doubts about 'Early Bird Praise', there is another blind spot in this expression. If an early bird catches a worm, in the case of a worm, does it get eaten by the early bird, because of getting up early? It may sound a little ridiculous, but we need to think about whether it is advantageous for everyone to get up early.
Taken together, being an early bird can be a way to succeed. Under the same conditions, a more diligent person can get a ladder to catch opportunities first. However, as the behaviors and habits of animals are not the same, everyone is different and has own unique personalities. If we ignore these individualities and force all of them to be early birds, those who do not fit will not be able to display their ability properly. Since larks can not hunt at night, and as owls can not hunt during the day. Therefore, we should follow the right way to maximize each person's abilities, rather than applying the same standards to all. Because now we live in the world where the early bird can catch early worms, and the late bird can catch late worms.

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