This article looks into the connection between too much passivity and free time created after the industrial revolution, and leading and linking to more mediocrity and even mental illness.
The industrial revolution saw a large proportion of the population with much more free time on their hands. No longer did people have to work continuously just to survive. So now people have more free time. What do we do with all this free time?
The majority of people seem content spending their free time on idle passive activities, such as watching TV, playing video games, engaging in small talk, or seeking impulsive pleasures (instant gratification), rarely doing anything productive or creative. Most people seem to have no or few goals, other than simply getting through another day, fitting in and conforming.
Perhaps this is OK for some people. It will depend on a person’s job or career. Perhaps their careers are very rewarding, and it allows them to follow their passions, or progress themselves in some sense.
However, for many, their jobs won’t provide them with a strong sense of achievement, progression or pride. Not to be confused with being prideful, it’s actually rare for people to feel true pride about themselves and their achievements, this is the good type of pride. As Richard Taylor said, “Pride is the justified love of oneself”.
Many people, including great philosophers, have made the connection between passivity, and mental illness conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Those who are not progressing or bettering themselves in life will likely only find the passing of time to be an enemy, not an ally.
Doing nothing meaningful or developing skills will simply result in people just wasting away. The future will seem darker and more depressing. These people will never reach their potential, mediocrity will become more prevalent and individuals and society will suffer because of it. However, this might not apply to everyone. Perhaps only those with a higher level of potential will suffer from prolonged bouts of passivity. Some may be destined for mediocrity, but everyone can learn and improve.
Unfortunately, people tend to be brought down by the mediocre majority. They can’t see past the desire to fit in, or the conventional wisdom. They believe impulsive pleasure, engaging in passive pursuits, conforming and fitting in are the keys to happiness, also often confusing this conformity with moral behaviour. People will often attack those who have achieved great wealth through competence and hard work, mostly simply out of ignorance and resentment.
While mediocrity seems to be becoming more prevalent, there is hope. The internet has given birth to amazing opportunities to learn. It has never been easier to learn something new, or develop a skill. You want to learn how to program, or become a 3D graphic artist, then simply search for tutorials online. Or perhaps you want to study a science, or philosophy, you will find plenty of information on any subject. Almost all the information and knowledge known to human kind is available online for all to see and consume.
You can choose to make time an ally by simply bettering yourself. For example, learning a skill and doing challenging things. If you are depressed and anxious about the future, then work on making your future better.
Despite the potential of the almost limitless knowledge available, the fact that so few people seek to use and understand it is a concern.