One of the things I used to hear fairly often as a teenager was that I was “wasting time” on the computer and on video games. I should be doing something productive, not just sitting around staring at monitors and television screens.
As an adult, people still say I “waste” time on Facebook or debating with people in the comments sections of blogs. I suppose the idea is that I should be working on some goal-oriented project at all times. However, I’m not so sure that I actually am wasting time. I’m not even sure what “wasting time” means.
Where does this notion of wasting time come from? Sociologist Max Weber suggested that the influence of the Protestant work ethic on capitalism stemmed from the different ways that Protestants (specifically Calvinist and similarly strict sects) value labor. While Catholics saw religious life (i.e., priests and nuns) as the work of God, Protestants saw secular work as “a calling” and thus infused secular work with a religious spirit. This meant that working was an avenue for people to bring themselves closer to God, which infused the capitalist work ethic with a Protestant spirit.
To this day, people often discuss work in morally loaded terms. Leisure time is often described by people as “laziness,” which is considered sinful in Christianity. Not working is seen by many as a moral failing. But is this work-leisure dichotomy fair? Is leisure time not spent working on a goal-oriented activity really wasteful?
“Activity that does not result in progress toward a goal is a waste of time.” Do you agree with this statement? Is it ever okay to waste time? Is it even possible to waste time?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.