Where did all my time go?

The last two centuries has seen us make unprecedented progress. Our productivity has skyrocketed. Our lifespan has doubled and we lead higher quality lives.

Yet, despite this abundance, we are perpetually short on time. If we have improved on every other measure, why are our lives still so rushed?

Every village that is newly electrified sees the following changes. First, industrial productivity goes up. Second, the lights go on in the evening. Third, every household purchases a television. Fourth, the leisure that people used to enjoy disappears.

The last few years have seen social media and video streaming leapfrog the dominance that television had over our leisure. When the pandemic forced us to work from home, millions of people saved at least an hour of commute time each day. How many of those hours were gobbled up by Netflix or social media feeds?

Leisure is free time spent in a manner that leaves us feel fulfilled. Television programming is designed to do the opposite – to leave you feeling empty inside. Of all your happy days on the planet, how many were spent flopped in front of a TV?

The engine of capitalism is fueled by consumption. As we progress further, our sources of entertainment and consumption turn more powerful and addictive, leaving us unfulfilled and craving for more consumption. This consumption further cranks the engine of capitalism and the cycle goes on and on.

It is this vortex into which our free time disappears!

Inspiration: Seth Godin

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