I have a Facebook page—not that it’s a big deal. You have one too. So does everyone you know.
But for me, Facebook is a relatively new phenomenon. I like it mostly. It beats playing with fidget spinners. I struggle to understand its hold on people, but that’s probably my deficiency. After all, almost no one understands why I like chess. C’est la vie.
Recently I invited a former work associate to be my friend, in a Facebook kind of way. His reply: “Welcome to a great waste of time!”
The call “Amen, brother,” comes to mind.
I’m not knocking Facebook. As time-wasters go it’s one of the most entertaining. And this is important, because to be a true citizen of modern life you must hold an advanced degree in time wasting.
Here’s the drill. Somewhere along the way our lives get busy. Then, no surprise, we get even busier. That’s the way life goes. You’d think that when we were finally able to take a few minutes to tune out the noise and enjoy a bit of blissful reflection we’d jump at the chance. But no—somewhere along the line we all made the culture-shifting decision that even when we’re not busy we should be busy.
Gone are the days when we could lie on the grass like Winnie the Pooh and contemplate the ways in which it would be sweet to be a cloud.
It’s not that we’re afraid of having a little time to let our minds wander into the clouds, it’s just that we’ve gotten so badly out of the habit. Have a minute of downtime? Quick, check your Facebook page. Channel surf. Stick your earphones in and listen to Pandora. Hulu! Netflix! Anything but silence. Anything but time to…just…quietly…ponder…stuff.
What kind of stuff? Oh, I don’t know—your life? How’s it going. No—how is it really going? Are you happy? Fulfilled? If not, what’s your plan to fix it? Are you at peace with your own soul? Have you found your own true meaning of life?
Whoa, dude, really? That’s heavy stuff. Pass the chips, man, I think there’s a football game with some school somewhere on FS1.
Or, you can just kill some time surfing the web. Check out the latest cat videos on You Tube. Or see how beautiful and happy your friends are on Facebook. (Your friends on Facebook are always beautiful and happy. Just like you are.)
Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with some creative brain rot at the end of a long, hard day. But part of the challenge of modern life is that there’s so much brain rot out there that if we’re not careful we can spend weeks just moving from busy to brain rot, to more busy to more brain rot. And after awhile we become okay with that.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve engaged in some good old fashioned navel-gazing, why not give it a try? Turn off the noise and the screens. Think about the meaning of life. Consider how firmly you’ve tied yourself to the treadmill of endless stimulation that blocks out anything that feels, y’ know, important.
Former Hungarian president Vaclav Havel once said “The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that his lack of self awareness bothers him less and less.”
Time wasters are fine occasionally. But with so much brain rot clamoring for attention, we just need to make sure our time wasters don’t become our life wasters.