This paragraph is from the TOEFL test. Could you please help me understand it?
"The railroad was not the first institution to impose regularity on society, or to draw attention to the importance of precise timekeeping. For as long as merchants have set out their wares at daybreak and communal festivities have been celebrated, people have been in rough agreement with their neighbors as to the time of day. The value of this tradition is today more apparent than ever. Were it not of time, social life would be unbearably for public acceptance of a single yardstick chaotic: the massive daily transfers of goods, services, and information would proceed in fits and starts; the very fabric of modern society would begin to unravel."
The first sentence is understood but I cannot understand the rest of the sentences. Please explain them to me and give me as much details as possible or explain whatever you want if you don't have time.
1- I also want to know why the writer used the words "in rough agreement with their neighbors". Why specifically the neighbors?
2- Meaning of " single yardstick chaotic", "proceed in fits and starts", and "the very fabric of modern society would begin to unravel" ???
Thanks in advance.
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