Saturday, October 31, 2009

How Will You Use Your Extra Hour?


I really enjoyed the video embedded above. The following segment was particularly shocking to me:
Did you know 21 year olds...
*...have watched 20,000 hours of TV
*...played 10,000 hours of video games
*...talked 10,000 hours on the phone
*...and they've sent/received 250.000 emails or instant messages


『ちりも積もれば山となる』
chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru
grains of dust, accumulated become mountains


When I went back to my college town to attend grad school, I bought a game system to share with some old buddies - we started playing a Final Fantasy game. It kept a running total of hours played, and after it reached about 30 hours, I couldn't stomach playing it again - every time I read that number, I felt my life ticking away. Occasionally, I remember this and all the time (and quarters) spent on video games of marginal entertainment value and shake my head. Yes, I think games and television have value, and yes, I'm still pretty amazing with a controller or joystick, but I'd trade a little vaunted "gamer hand-eye coordination" for a lot of other skills that I don't have. I really have no idea how much total time I spent, but I'd like to think it's a little less than the figures above.

40,000+ hours... assuming you sleep 8 hours a day, that's nearly 8 years of time! "Well, I would've probably wasted the time anyway", you might say... But, what if you didn't? What could you accomplish in 8 years of focused (or even not-so-focused) time? Fluency in 2 or more additional languages? Several college degrees? If you chose the right sport, people might be watching you on TV. If you worked 40,000 hours at a job paying $6.25 an hour, you'd be a quarter of a million dollars richer.

Among the scientific community, 10,000 hours is recognized as the amount of practice time needed to master a complex skill. It starts with one hour and daylight savings turns back the clock tonight. How will you spend that hour?

4 comments:

Neghar said...

Thanks for posting this video! It's yet another reminder of how quickly our lives pass, and how short a window we have to make them matter. As a single mom of a 3 yr old, it makes me rethink how much TV I let him watch...

Boris said...

Thank you Neghar,
I let my little one watch more than I should. I'll try to do better there.

trentkg said...

I dunno Boris, I think thats sort of a strange view of life. Why are "accomplishments" and "progress" so important? Does having more skills, more money, or all in all just doing MORE things make someone happier? I can understand this sort of argument when it comes to video games (an activity that can alienate one from the experience of life and social interactions), but what if all of those hours were spent hanging out in a park? Or watching the day go by? Would it still be just as big of a "waste" of time? In fact, I think the whole viewpoint of time as thing to be coveted is pretty backwards, and a 20th century viewpoint. We read a paper by E.P. thompson in my soscial science class last year where he talks about the changing view points of time that I think you would find interesting: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~salaff/Thompson.pdf . Essentially, it wasn't until capitalism rolled around that people started spouting the philosphy of "time is money" or using terms like "wasted time." No one viewed time as something to be spent, cherished or coveted until then.

Regardless, when I look back on my life, I don't think I'm going to judge it by home many skills I've acquired, languages I've learned, and how much money I've made, but by how much I enjoyed it.

And, although this definitely isn't true for me, for some people this may involve hours of video games XD.

Boris said...

Trent,
I don't have a problem with people choosing to spend 20,000 hours of their life before the age of 21 watching TV, but I don't think most young people even give the idea any thought whatsoever. It's not a conscious decision.

No, I don't measure the worth of my life by how many skills I've acquired, or how much money I've made... at all. I do measure my worth by the contributions I've made to a greater good - tv and games can provide some entertainment and perhaps some inspiration, but there's a point of diminishing returns that is reached pretty quickly.

I don't covet time, but I try not to waste it.