Too Many Things, Not Enough Time


Go ahead and try to define time.  Go on.  I’ll wait.

It’s hard, isn’t it?  My definition would probably be something like this:  ‘Time is a thing that happens because it does’.  You can measure it, sure, that’s why watches exist.  Things happen in a certain amount of time.  But that’s not a definition, really; we’re not defining what time is, merely how things work because time exists.  Then there are phrases like ‘a point in time,’ as if time is fully continuous and yet certain moments within it can be pinpointed.  Time is weird.

Despite the non-definition of time, I can conclusively say that we don’t have enough of it.  Even Gandalf didn’t have enough time, saying in The Lord of the Rings, “Three hundred lives of men I’ve walked this earth and now I have no time.”  Old people wish they had more time.  Young people wish they had more time.  We all live and die, or at least all evidence supports this; due to the number of people alive who have not died yet, the human mortality rate is only 93%.  Because statistics are fun.

Beyond the large, philosophically weighted implications of the limit of time, which I will not discuss further, there are other, smaller indications of the lack of time.  The banner phrase representing this idea is thus:

“I can’t believe you haven’t watched/read/played/heard this movie/book/game/piece!”


Let’s do some math, shall we?  Don’t worry, there won’t be any integration, derivation, or long division of polynomials.  Simple arithmetic will do.

Fernando works a standard 8-5 accounting job totaling 40 hours a week.  He goes to bed at 11 on weekdays in order to get up at 7; Fernando likes his sleep.  After eating dinner with his wife, Ortega, Fernando has 3 hours of free time each evening.  On the weekends, Fernando runs errands, goes to church, and naps.  Let’s say he gets another 12 hours of free time between those days.

Fernando has 27 hours a week of free time, time he can choose what he wants to do.  This translates to 1404 or so hours a year.  Fernando enjoys baseball and football, along with watching a couple shows on TV and Friday movie night with Ortega.  Let’s say Fernando watches half of all the baseball in the season, three quarters of the football games, and watches three 20-episode shows, along with one movie per Friday.  His free time would look like this:

3 hours/game x 80 games = 240 hours

3 hours/game x 12 games = 36 hours

1 hour/show x 20 episodes x 3 shows = 60 hours

2 hours/movie x 52 movies = 104 hours

Total:  440 hours

Of course, I didn’t include any time spent reading, or travelling, or vacations, or interneting (which we all know is a big time-waster), or whatever.  So, Fernando has used up about a third of his total hours.  Not so bad, right?

However, let’s take a look at the total amount of content that was produced in the categories in which he is interested:

162 games/season x 3 hours/game x 30 teams/2 (because each game features 2 teams) = 7,290 hours

16 games/season x 3 hours/game x 32 teams/2 = 768 hours

39 new shows for 2012/2013 x 1 hour x 20 episodes = 780 hours

677 films released in 2012 x 2 hours/film = 1,354 hours

In those four categories, 10,192 hours were produced from new content in one year.  Fernando, remember, only has 1404 hours.  This is a big problem.  Also, we’re only looking at the new content.  Those four categories, combined, churn out 10,000 hours of new content every single year.  This adds up.  After five years, Fernando, even assuming he spends all of his free time watching these things, will have missed out on 43,940 hours of content.  That makes 1,830 days or, interestingly, five years of content remaining.


The aforementioned exclamation–“I can’t believe you haven’t seen ___!”–really irks me.  For any single hobby, there is so much content produced every year that it is simply impossible to be fully appraised of what’s going on, even if you only keep up with the quality content.  Perhaps a movie aficionado whose hobby is entirely watching and discussing movies keeps abreast of the new happenings while simultaneously interested and informed of the classics.  However, the closer you get to total knowledge of one subject, the further you get away from another.  It’s just impossible, unless you can stop time or don’t sleep.

Realistically, there are very few things which one can legitimately say, “Man, you haven’t seen this!  That’s crazy!”  For instance, Star Wars is one of those things–Star Wars is a cultural touchstone and has heavily influenced generations of filmmakers and sci-fi/fantasy creators and fans.  Something like…Top Gun?  Not so much.  Great movie, great soundtrack, but if you’re not into movies at all, it’s just not a must-see.  Likewise, everybody should read at least part of the Bible, even if you discount its religious importance–the Bible is, like it or not, a cornerstone of Western civilization.  Haven’t played Tetris?  That’s a sin.  Haven’t played Call of Duty?  Eh.  It’s important to note the difference between good content and must-experience content; the latter is much smaller than you might think because there’s just not enough time.

I am a pretty avid gamer, but I have not played Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Final Fantasy VII.  I enjoy reading, but have not read Great Expectations, Moby Dick, or Catch-22.  I enjoy movies, but have not seen Gone With the Wind, The Maltese Falcon, The Godfather.  I love to ride rollercoasters, but I haven’t been to entire parks with must-ride coasters.  It happens.

So, choose what you watch/play/read wisely.  Every piece of content you experience means that there are a hundred other things that you never will.  But you know what?  That’s ok.  The more content, the better–creativity is one of the most important things to cultivate, in my opinion.  To be creative is to be human.


One thought on “Too Many Things, Not Enough Time

  1. Pingback: Too Many Things, Not Enough Time | cooper barham

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