Got a free minute?

Recently I found this tool that shows how much time you’ve wasted on Facebook. Did I log in and shake my head over the result? Not a chance. I took the-ignorance-is-bliss approach and gave it a wide berth. As I will do if any such tools pop up for other social media.

The test made me think of other activities that I don’t want a cumulative time record for:

  • looking for recycling symbols on packaging

  • waiting in voice queues to speak to the next available representative

  • learning the latest version of software just when I’ve nailed the old one

  • looking for things that aren’t where they should be

  • trying to make shoddy merchandise function so I won’t have to return it

  • returning shoddy merchandise to stores

  • searching for a sales assistant who knows less about a store’s products than I do

  • standing in a room, wondering what I came in for, and feeling convinced if I just stand there another minute, I will remember

  • going back to that room five minutes later because I finally remembered what I wanted

  • saving recipes that will never be made

Browsing websites is a better way to spend time than anything on that list. It connects me to the world and opens the portal to daydreaming. Neil Gaiman said, “As an author, I’ve never forgotten how to daydream.” I hope I don’t either. It’s an essential springboard to making stuff up.

Now the University of Pennsylvania recognizes that unfocused internet surfing may be productive time. “'[…] distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting' might prove as creatively fertile as automatic writing was for the Surrealist writers,” according to Professor (and MoMA Poet Laureate) Kenneth Goldsmith.

Are you going to click on the link above and see how much time you’ve wasted on Facebook? Or do you realize that actually it’s time invested, not squandered? How many opportunities would you have missed if you hadn’t taken time to be part of the worldwide web and all it has to offer?


Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Salvador Dali, Profile of Time in Arkady Wroclawskie Shopping Centre by Julio.