Assuming you’re not reading this on your iPhone 12s in some far more web-optimized future, it probably took this page between two and three seconds to show up. That’s … not bad. Sure, the range could be higher or lower depending on your browser, your location, the network you’re using, the time of day, your device, and all sorts of other variables. But two-to-three seconds is a good baseline for August 2016.

How long it seemed to take is an entirely different matter. Even with increasingly faster devices, speedier networks, and optimized web code, waiting is inevitable—and legitimately stressful. The good news: It’s also relatively easy to manage the perception of that waiting, and web designers are getting better and better at it.

“Our sense of time is surprisingly easy to manipulate,” says Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman, “whether it’s actual duration or the order in which things happen.” Your emotional state, immediate environment, the music playing in the background, cultural biases—all of these can affect whether a download that is fast actually feels fast.

"A popularizer of impressive gusto...[Eagleman] aims, grandly, to do for the study of the mind what Copernicus did for the study of the stars."
- New York Observer
"[A] neuroscientist and polymath."
- Wall Street Journal
"David Eagleman is the kind of guy who really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun."
- New York Times
"Eagleman has a talent for testing the untestable, for taking seemingly sophomoric notions and using them to nail down the slippery stuff of consciousness."
- The New Yorker
"What Eagleman seems to be calling for is a new Enlightenment."
- Sunday Herald
"David Eagleman offers startling lessons.... His method is to ask us to cast off our lazy commonplace assumptions.
- The Guardian
"David Eagleman may be the best combination of scientist and fiction-writer alive."
- Stewart Brand