What exactly is time? The technical definition is “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole” but what does that mean? And why is it such a huge deal in our lives? We see time as an object of burden and something that has to be dealt with on a daily basis in order to have a problem free day. Time is the law. If we do not do something by this time on this day our entire schedule is off. Time is not the problem here, however.
In America we see time as how long we have to fit in as much as possible before we die. We count hours spent, hours to go, hours left until the end or beginning of another task. We are constantly on the go as to not waste too much time. Wasted time. That term comes from all the people who cannot have or just do not have any leisure time. Leisure time. I guess that’s a word that is defined when there needs to be a name for the time that we take when we are not working on moving our lives up the social ladder. If you asked America if there was a difference between leisure time and wasted time, the majority would probably say no because we as Americans see leisure time as the excess, the time off that we happen to have away from the busyness of our schedules. If we are not using all the time we are given to pursue what will improve our chances and our family’s chance in success then it is considered wasted.
The statistics do not lie either. In studies of the American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are a total of 5 leisure hours and sports play in a day of people ages 15 and up. Sports are a full time job for most kids and adults, however, so that leisure time is essentially gone along with the rest of their day. The statistics show that watching TV is the most common thing to do in our leisure time which takes up 2.8 hours of our day. Next comes socializing and communicating with 39 minutes (which is probably a lot higher when social media comes into play) and in third is playing games: using a computer for leisure with 26 minutes. Now this is all average form the data collected in 2013 and all days of the week. These statistics prove that even in our leisure time, Americans are still doing something. We still feel the need to be constantly doing something to get ahead. There were only 18 minutes in a day to which we dedicated ourselves to sit and think about whatever our little hearts desire. Only 18 minutes in the 24 hours of our day. And that is an average which means there are a whole lot of people who just did not use their leisure time to just do nothing. They used up every single second possible in their day to get ahead and to just get things done around the house or projects from work or school. Humans need wiggle room. We need space to relax and think.
Culture has also dictated how many hours we spend working and giving up our leisure time. Studies have shown that people are working a lot more than they used to and that is what is expected of us. We come in earlier and leave later because that is what the boss wants then that is what they are going to get. In a lot of offices the worker bees need to get to the office before the Queen bee does and leave when or after they do just to keep afloat and keep their job. It is expected of us to live the “American Dream” and work our tails off while we are doing it. With that comes less, if any, leisure time.
It seems as if we are a people in constant need of acceptance from everyone: our peers, families and coworkers alike. If we do not receive their acceptance then we have failed. People say they do not care what others think of them but it seems as if trying to please others is in our DNA. If the social norm is that leisure time is wasted time then we automatically stay away from any sort of leisure time as acceptable and work constantly. We add things to our lives to make it seem as if we must. There is no downtime for ourselves. We have to cut back on what we do and what we think we have to do in order to make everyone else happy when in all reality we are the only ones we need to keep happy.
by Ambriel Whitaker