“If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.” — Epictetus
People keep asking me the same things: “Is technology making us lazy?”, ”Is social media hurting our kids?”, and so on.
As with anything it really comes down to the individual using the medium.
You can spend your time playing video games, reading books, watching TV, facebooking, hanging with friends, working, or what have you.
If we do any one thing too much and don’t have get a return on investment then it’s a waste of time. Just to be clear, everyone of us needs to define what that return should be. If it’s relaxation, money, fulfillment, or what have you.
So what if we work 18 hours a day? Just because we’re keeping ourselves busy it doesn’t mean that we’re more productive than a kid spending 18 hours a day playing video games. That kid might end up doing it for a living and providing value to millions of people.
For someone who values other things in life spending time video games doesn’t yield any tangible or valuable results. For that kid who grew up playing video games and is now making a living entertaining people by doing so it was a valuable investment of their time.
It’s not about the activity itself, it’s about who we are, and what we feel is important and valuable to us. Also, feeling that we contribute something to the world is generally something people value.
Granted, society at large may have a different outlook on our activities than we do. At the same time, who’s to say what’s “right” and “wrong”? Let the market decide.
I learned some valuable lessons from video games. It helped me with dexterity, problem solving/creativity, competition, team work, storytelling, and gave me a sense of agency.
Look at your own leisure activities, I doubt that the hours were completely wasted. You probably learned a lot that you just didn’t realize.
However, I suspect that at one point you started valuing other things in life. As a result you saw diminishing returns from it.
One of the dangers is comparing the results you would’ve had now if you’d spent those hours on other activities.
Well, you didn’t. And you never will have done that. You can’t change what was, but you don’t have to dwell on it.
If you’d planted a tree 20 years ago you would have a big-ass tree by now.
But you didn’t. Accept that. Focus on planting a tree right now.
Sure, it’ll take another 20 years, but you’ve got time. It’ll take less time than if you plant it tomorrow, next month, or next year.
There is an untapped potential for everything to do good or cause harm.
The notion that they’re just a “waste of time” isn’t doing us any favors. We need to be realistic about both the good and the bad that any medium has to offer.
Otherwise we’ll just keep having the same debate we’ve had about radio, movies, TV, rock n’ roll, punk, metal, hip hop, internet, social media, and we’ll probably have the same debate with VR or whatever comes up next.
Remember, there was a time a little over 2000 years ago when we had the good vs. bad debate regarding pencils and books.
Fucking pencils and books.
Go even further back and people probably argued the pros and cons of the wheel.
There’s always been that tension between the old and the new.
It’s just growing pains, some people will go too far into the new and some will desperately cling to the old.
Some people will only see the good and some will only see the danger.
The magic is in the middle.
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Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!