I don’t think it’s farfetched to suggest that we are a somewhat luxury inclined society. Flick on the TV screen, scroll your Facebook, if you’re old school, read the paper. Most of the adverts, friend’s posts, deals seem to propagate a notion of total relaxation, lazing about, chilling, doing nothing.
Holiday destination ads depict couples splayed out sunbaking on the beach, Netflix and takeaway seem to be the standard after work engagement. Sure, there are the occasional commercials advocating family bike rides, physical activity and the like, but the majority of what is in the limelight is a movement towards….well… moving less.
Buy this new couch that will house your rear comfortably for hours on end while you binge watch the newest Stan episodes for just 15 bucks a month. Order these pre cooked, pre prepared, chemically laden, concoctions aka ‘meals’ so you don’t have to exert yourself for 15 minutes to chuck together a quick, fresh, wholesome salad. Buy this Bluetooth equipped, WiFi ready, reverse camera, bulky beast of a car with seat warmers, coffee machine installed, voice activated starter to commute your 10 minutes to work – save yourself the exertion of a 20 minute bike ride (and spend an extra 49 000 buckaroos).
Now, to a certain extent, I’m a hypocrite. I drive to and from the gym and work, my grocery shopping is largely accomplished online with home delivery in order to avoid cues and heavy lugging. I am super reliant on my technology to survive; online bill payments, even sadly friend catch ups via Facebook rather than face to face. The thing is, my ability to relax isn’t well developed. Those beachside commercials advocating doing a bunch of nothing, the comfy couches, the idea of sitting down and binge watching shows just doesn’t appeal to me.
This is by no way a suggestion that partaking in these activities is detrimental, or rather a negative thing. They say balance is key and for those that work their buttocks off, I can’t imagine there being criticism thrown at smashing oneself down on the sofa and letting the mind follow the actions on screen after a toiling day. Unfortunately, I just can’t do it and I suggest this has personal, lackluster effects.
We are doers, seekers, investigators. We are drama hungry, we need stimulation to keep us keeping. Whether we garner that in our workplace, from the TV, in our social circle, the demand is unquestionable. It is now accepted fact that our obsession with our phones and social platforms is due to the ever changing and attention grabbing fresh flow of information. The ping of a text message, of a Facebook like, an Instagram post, all fuel our award centres and satisfy the yearn for action. There is however a danger in relying on this technology based boost – we become prone to limiting our self development, compromising it for immediate, ultimately purposeless gratification.
How so? I’ll relate to my personal experience. Only recently I sat down by my laptop after an intense training day with the aim of writing a fresh article. Unfortunately, Facebook world was super active and an hour later I was still scrolling pages and randomly researching red kidney bean dessert recipes. Somehow a recipe post skewed me on this flow of pointless investigation. I call it pointless as I am not a chef by any means and nor did I have any intention to bake anything that night. I ‘wasted’ an hour fuddy duddying through random Facebook posts and soon it was time for bed. Article delayed, flow lost, purpose thwarted.
The question becomes, was my procrastination lazy? Was the act of not doing what was intended the same as not doing anything. Technically I invested my energy, I scrolled through pages, my mind wandered, however it didn’t elicit the intended response. I did not enter the realm of the creative self by writing, editing, pondering. Instead I skimmed the creations of other’s. I can easily justify this, suggest that it was a form of ‘idea stimulation’. Maybe it will assist me in forming a concept for my next article…”The Philosophy of Red Bean Recipes”….hmmm.
It is much too easy to be distracted, but there is a theory that engaging in tasks that relinquish the need for intense concentration can, on occasion, be rewarding. It can stimulate left field thoughts, perfect for those trying to tap into the creative self. Probably not the best idea if one is setting on a mind numbing or analytical task such as mundane data entry or critiquing the results of a spelling or maths test – concentration is quintessential here. That said, a planned ‘brain outage’, maybe every half an hour poses value for not only motivation (looking forward to a 5 minute reprieve by googling cute puppies), but also sticking to task. I guess it’s a form of personal manipulation with a productive outcome.
Now back to the notion of our movement towards laziness. Reassessing this notion, I have come to see that maybe we aren’t really searching for the best way to do nothing. We do more, so much more in a society that demands this. Turn the clock back some 200 years. Mum prepared the daily food, ensured the kiddies went to and from school, provided the man with his meals, ensured the house was impeccable and engaged with her social circle. Dad went to work, he was responsible for the physically demanding chores around the home, he ensured the pay packet would arrive weekly. The roles were clearly split, gender specific and somewhat ‘simpler’ to comprehend. Let me set something straight, I in no way advocate this traditional lifestyle is preferable or correct. My personal choices run in total opposition to this principle of living. My suggestion is purely that there was a significantly lower availability of lifestyle alternatives – there was one primary accepted way of life (marry, have kids, man works, woman keeps the house etc.), such that the demand to assess, select, decide etc. wasn’t there.
We’ve evolved, our tasks, accountability and expectations have exploded. My existence as a female is no longer set in stone. Marriage, babies, housekeeping are but mere options, not expectations. It’s a case of choice galore and there is an accompanying degree of subconscious fatigue associated with excess options. They call it ‘decision fatigue’; more choices means more contemplation, means more demand on the brain, means increased rates of burnout. So when one considers that in the bread aisle alone, there are more than 30 options, it is understandable why we crave plonking down on our butts at the end of the week and simply detaching from it all. The thing is we’re not lazy, we’re overwhelmed. We seek reprieve, disconnect, utter chill and we are being sold it by way of lazy seaside escapes, unlimited TV streaming, virtual worlds of video games – all removing the self from reality.
Again, I’m not immune, I plead total guilt to partaking in this almost nonsensical venture. My crux, the escape, is through extreme training routines, Ultramarathon participation and vicarious existence via reading. This isn’t right, nor wrong, it’s not better nor worse – it simply is. It eats up time, plenty of it, but that is the currency I have to spend, my form of personal investment. So, on second glance, maybe we’re not a laziness inclined nation. Maybe it’s the contrary, we are busy, super engaged, always doing, deciding, acting, just being. Maybe that is why we seek those comforts, means to liberate from the now, for the now is systematically demanding, ruthlessly calling for us to ‘do’.
Excuse me while I escape for the moment….I’m heading out for a run.
What’s your escape ?