Don’t Waste My Time!

Stop wasting my time!  This is a comment that is frequently heard and seldom reflected on. What does it mean to waste someone’s time?  Does the person know they are wasting your time? What was the person doing that “wasted” your time? Is it like wasting food or wasting money?  When someone tells you something that you are not interested in, does it waste your time?  In a country where the average person watches more than 25 hours a week of TV, it seems preposterous that anyone could dare use a phrase like “stop wasting my time.”
We spend over 14 hours per week watching people hitting a ball, carrying a ball, throwing a ball and bouncing a ball in games that we call sports, but we do not consider this a “waste” of our time.  If sports and TV are not time wasters, then what qualifies?  The average time spent watching sports (2.3 hours per day) is seven times greater than the average time spent participating in sports (.31 hours per day).  Perhaps watching sports exercises one’s eyeballs?  So what does it really mean to waste your time?  Is this time when you are not doing anything?  Whose fault is that if you have nothing to do? 
If we were honest, we would admit that most of us waste our own time with silly meaningless activities designed to take our mind off living and perhaps really accomplishing something. We are each experts at ways to waste time.  TV, gambling, casinos, watching sports, newspapers, endless meetings, etc. are only a smattering of the myriad ways we waste our time each day. Wasting time is a very subjective concept, since what I think is very wasteful, you might think is very useful.  My ideas of what constitute a valuable use of time might fit your definition of “time wasters.” Nevertheless, we all have our own ideas of what time wasting means to us. 

What if more of us started “wasting” our time on the activities that could really make a difference to the world?  What would the world be like, if more of us took an interest in government, law and politics and less in TV, gambling, sports and other activities?  What if we spent more time in charitable activities, loving others, finding ways to bring peace to the world, building bridges and creating friendships with those in need?  What if we spent 25 hours a week on these activities instead of watching TV?  Could you spend one hour less on TV this week and one hour more on peace?  Where would you start?  When will you start?  Why not today? 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bruce Galbreath
    Jun 08, 2012 @ 14:00:14

    I think that the notion of “waste” implies a contrast between good and bad ways of spending our time. To use time on anything but the good, important things is to waste it. If your house were burning down and, instead of rescuing your loved ones or your property from the fire, you watched a baseball game, you would be considered insane. “Time is money”, and spending money on things we recognize as less important than other things is also arguably to waste it.

    Yet there is some flaw in such thinking. The philosopher Peter Singer argues that, as long as there are people in desperate need, we should not spend money on anything but helping them. Buying comfortable furniture, having a nice restaurant meal, taking a vacation, deprives the desperately needy and is not just a waste, but wrong. Yet even he does not live up to the conclusions of his reasoning. We need down time, we need to relax and enjoy ourselves and not always be striving to the utmost. There is some hard to define balance between taking care of what is important and kicking back.



  2. John Persico
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 17:13:46

    Was it not Jesus that said “The poor will always be with us.” I suppose Bruce you have highlighted the problem with moral strictures. They at some point all become hypocritical or at least contradictory. I have always said I would not want to be St. Peter and have to decide who goes to heaven and who does not. How would I be able to tell?



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