I’m a busy person, which is one of the reasons I don’t watch a lot of television. Production values are at an all-time high, because technology has increased in quality at the same rate it has decreased in price (thank you, NASA), but from a content standpoint, most of it is utterly worthless. I don’t care what the made-up real wives from anywhere are doing; I don’t care about The View, The Talk, The Chew, The Chomp, The Step, The Stomp, The Copy or any cookie-cutter talk show with a derivative title and set-up; even though there is some (supposedly) quality science fiction out there, I don’t have the time or patience to keep us with series television like Falling Skies or Defiance (miss one episode and the internet and its endless spoilers will ruin it for you); the internet has largely rendered news programs irrelevant, although they rendered themselves annoying years ago. (Yes, Wolf Blitzer, I’m talking about you.)
In short, television is a huge time sink. Every hour you spend watching television is an hour of your life you’ll never get back, an hour that you could have spent doing something creative and productive. If you’re lucky like Wil Wheaton, you can make a living by watching and tweeting about Sharknado, but most of us aren’t that fortunate. (He is, and he knows it, but he isn’t an ordinary person.)
So I’ve pretty much given up television. It had potential once, but that came to an end when The Learning Channel got bought by corporate interests, and was reinforced when The Military Channel, which once upon a time aired shows about real-life heroes, changed its name to The American Heroes Channel and now airs shows about ghosts and other paranormal nonsense. When the television is on, it’s because my mind and creative juices need a rest, so I’m watching some classic 80’s movie like Explorers or watching all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender on dvd. It’s taken me some three months to manage it, but I’m finally on the third season.
An interesting but unnecessary sidenote: I’m thoroughly jealous of kids these days, because they get cartoons like Adventure Time (which I rarely see, but will someday probably get on dvd) and Avatar: The Last Airbender. (And it annoys me that when I say “Avatar” I need to specify the cartoon, not the racist dreck of a live-action movie, or the James-Cameron-post-colonial-“hero goes native”-racist dreck of a movie.) Never have I seen a cartoon with the character development of Avatar, nor with such complex story lines that most episodes started with a “Previously, on Avatar” card. Aang’s dilemma was one of great moral complexity, and it was solved in a unique, non-deus-ex-machina way. It was a show that managed to be funny, touching, and irreverent, while never forgetting to be entertaining as well, a quality best epitomized by the episode “Tales of Ba Sing Se” at the end of the second season.
Okay, end of sidenote.
Everything that I’ve just said about television applies doubly so to Facebook. I have known for some time that Facebook is a tremendous waste of time, but like an addict, I couldn’t wean myself away from it. Then I got an email from them telling me that the Messenger app was now required on mobile, rather than an option, leading to this tweet:
— Professor O'Riarty (@iswpw) July 30, 2014
I won’t abandon Facebook entirely (they’ve made themselves essential to business), but I’ve gone from checking in on it four or five times a day to checking in once a week.
I’m a busy, busy person. I always have been, but lately I’ve freed up a lot of time and energy that I’ve been able to devote to more creative endeavors. Television was one of the first things to go; Facebook has been the most recent.
I mention this because I realize that in the United States of America, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, this makes me somewhat unique. (I use a computer and the internet, so I’m not unique in the way the Amish are unique.) Despite my avoidance of television, I recently saw an advert about a DVR that allows you to record six different shows at the same time. How, I wondered, do you find the time to watch all that recorded television? If you record three hours of television on six different channels, that’s eighteen hours of viewing, which is nearly half a work week.
I wasn’t terribly worried about this until I heard some of my coworkers discussing their own recording and viewing habits. It turns out that most people spend this much time in front of the television, and that being able to record six different channels at once is, rather than a horribly thing that will steal your brain, simply delightful.
To be honest, I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for the past week, but I haven’t had the time when I’ve had the energy, and and I haven’t had the energy when I’ve had the time. (Hashtag: #irony) Admitedly, I’m in the middle of writing an ebook about website basics (jazz is good music for this kind of writing), I just released one theme for the GetSimple CMS and am on the verge of releasing another one (turns out country music is very good for coding, but more about that later), I’m creating three introductory web courses about web design and creation (which I’ll put on Moodle 2.4, because that’s the latest version of Moodle my webhost can comfortably handle), I’m redesigning my online gallery (and still evaluating which FOSS to use on that one; looks like it will probably be ZenPhoto), working on drafts for blog posts and wiki entries (I really love editing on MediaWiki), I’m redesigning three different WordPress sites (back burner stuff, that—I save these for when I’m really bored), I’m moving my WordPress tutorial off this blog onto a new one tentatively titled Up After Midnight (rewriting, updating, and learning about 301 redirects at the same time), and writing every chance I get.
Even with all that, I still find time and energy to read books (fiction) and noodle around on my guitars (I have an Ibanez 6-string and an Ibanez bass) and if I could find more time for these activities, I would take every precious minute.
That’s not to say I don’t read a lot of books, because I do. I finished Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One not too long agon, along with Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon; I’m now working on Poke the Box by Seth Godin and Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki, along with Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three.
Oh yeah, and I’m podcasting in my spare time, although I’ve seriously underestimated the amount of time required to produce a good podcast. (On the other hand, I’ve absolutely nailed the amount of time required to produce a podcast full of suck.)
I still find time to shave on the days I have to go to work (although I am missing the beard if only because it saved me three minutes of pain and frustration every morning), shower, eat food I cooked myself and didn’t just take out of the freezer and microwave, and most importantly, wonder and contemplate.
Which I’m off to go do, right now.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.Permalink for this article: