Dying Daily #44: Time Sinks

The idea of needing to be entertained is odd.

When we get down to it, entertainment is essentially a way to pass the time, which means we are going out of our way to burn through the one thing we have.

Let’s lay a few things out at the front of this one so I don’t unintentionally paint myself as better or more disciplined than I am. I really like being entertained. I have watched The Office all the way through 4 or 5 times, 30 Rock 3 times, The Inbetweeners 3 times, Scrubs 2 times, Breaking Bad 4 times, and I am watching It’s Always Sunny for my second or third time. This isn’t even counting the shows I am watching for the first time, either.

As I mentioned before, I’ve put a great deal of time into Skyrim, but I have also put significant time into a bunch of other games. Minecraft alone has stolen months of my life. I also read a lot of books that have no educational value and watch movies sometimes.

Long story short, I like being entertained as much as anyone else, but this has begun to seem increasingly weird to me.

Why do we need to be entertained?

Why is “killing time’ a phrase in our vocabulary?

We literally do not have anything except time, it is the fabric of what makes this experience of being alive anything at all. Why do we have a need to make it pass faster?

I wonder if this is due to a lack of things we are passionate about, or maybe a lack of investment in our own lives. Maybe it is a byproduct of a modern society where so much of what we need to survive is handed to us, and where we are very separated from the means of living. Maybe it is just what happens when consciousness evolves to the point that it can reflect on itself as an object. I don’t know.

For real, I don’t know. I just made those reasons up and they have no reason to be taken seriously.

Here are a few changes I am making, they are especially necessary after a few weeks of being sick, and a few months before that where I let a lot of good habits slip due to stress. It is funny how the skills and habits we need the most are the first to go out the window when things get difficult.

Oh man, you have so much to do that you are overwhelmed and you won’t have time to finish it? Better sit down and play a video game.

Unhappy with how you look and embarrassed about the little gut you are getting? Better eat a carton of ice cream.

Anyway. Changes.

I am cutting way back on the things that I do that only entertain me, especially those that have no discernible impact on the real world around me.

This is the danger of video games: they give you the feeling of accomplishing something, but when you turn them off your life is exactly the same as it was before you started playing ten hours ago.

Television falls under this new regime as well. I am hoping to shift it to being something I do with my family and leave it at that. Letting it always play in the background is out too.

Lastly, the worst of the worst, the biggest time sink of all, my phone. I am currently deleting all sorts of apps, and my phone is going to start going in its metal box at the end of the day. Maybe I’ll seal it up with a little diamond made of thread like it’s a Tibetan Buddhist demon.

I am not saying any of these things are bad in and of themselves, or that they don’t have their proper place. I am not advocating a life without joy and entertainments, but I am questioning the idea that we have any business intentionally burning up time. I may be wrong though.

Where do you try to burn up time? What is it that prompts this in you? Is it stress, sadness, boredom, exhaustion? Something else? Are there other ways to deal with these things?

I am going to try leaning into the unpleasant emotions and struggles that push me toward the time sinks in my life. We’ll see how that goes.