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(en) wsm.ie: There's Not Enough Time in the Day
Mon, 17 Apr 2017 08:35:09 +0300
There's not enough bloody time in the day. I find the more my life goes on, the less time
I have to live. I wake up around 6am to go to work, and after my commute home, cooking
dinner, and attending to other errands, I have 1 hour to myself if I'm lucky. Often by the
time I do these basic tasks it's late enough that I know I'll be shattered tomorrow and
I'll have to drag myself through the day. After five days I clamber to the shore of the
weekend, but often find I'm so drained and conditioned by the work week I'm not myself.
It's a cycle which has no end in sight. Time is constantly on my mind. ‘Can't do that, not
enough time. Sorry, not enough time. Not enough time. I wish I had more time. Where does
the time go?' Checking my phone, what time is it, checking my phone, checking my phone. It
does my head in and it's not going to improve.
I'm absolutely not alone in this paucity of time. In fact as a young person without
children I count myself as exceptionally lucky in this regard. It blows my mind that
anyone could possibly raise a child, let alone multiple children, in this society. The
fact that anyone is raised in any way properly - which is arguably the most important job
of all to get right - is a miracle. I really think it's sick how we end up having so
little time to spend with the people we care about.
None of this is a law of nature or our faults. When humans lived on the plains of Africa
150-200,000 years ago they didn't have their days mapped out down to the hour by some
all-encompassing and rigid ‘society'. They weren't stressed to the gills with deadlines.
They didn't have to pencil in meetings with their loved ones 2-4 weeks in advance. They
could do whatever they wanted. Obviously I don't want to go back to that time. In
particular modern labour-saving and medical technology, at least in theory, makes life a
lot easier. Which is actually incredibly annoying because somehow we've still ended up so
busy that we often want to tear our hair out.
The point is that we've been enlisted in this economic machine which demands too much of
us and our time. And for what? The vast majority of us work so that someone else can get
rich. And not even for some great cause, but often for some relatively trivial commercial
purpose. Making stuff and providing services that probably don't even need to exist or
could be better put to use. Not to mention all of the goods and services which exist
because we're so time poor.
Or we do it to pay bills and debts. Yeah we're fined for existing. Oh you want food,
water, electricity, and a place to live? That'll cost you. It's not like every human on
the planet needs these things.
I dread the idea of being a drone in this stupid capitalist system for the rest of my
life. It terrifies me. I have so much to offer but it's a constant struggle to express any
significant amount of that in the little hours here and there that aren't spoken for
already. And again I know I'm far from the only one who thinks this. After work, I spend
the majority of my time trying to improve the world and make all of our lives better
through political change. That's an activity none of us would have to do (to anywhere near
the same extent) if we actually lived in a free and fair society. I'm no hero, just one of
millions who've tried to do their bit over hundreds of years. But it takes time too. I
look around me and see so much misery and injustice.
Climate change is going to make sure that there is no future for us. Our essential crops
are going to drop by up to half by mid-century. Hundreds of millions will flee from their
homelands. We're constantly on the verge of nuclear war even though most are unaware of
this tension (the Atomic Doomsday Clock is at 2 minutes to midnight last I checked). Our
natural resources are being robbed by private companies left, right, and centre, like our
water in Ireland. The scumbag far-right are taking off. Decent jobs are being replaced by
awful casual ones. Digital technology threatens to trap us in an unbreakable 1984-style
surveillance nightmare. And so on, and on. I wish more than anything I could spend all day
fighting against this. We're so unbelievably fucked and we're running out of time. But
instead I'm forced to turn up to a desk each morning and do stuff that someone else
decided, because otherwise I won't be able to eat. It's infuriating. That's what people
call ‘alienation'. You're not in control of your own life. Someone else is.
Anyway not everyone is an ‘activist' (I prefer the word ‘revolutionary'), but most of us
have our own parallels. We want to care for our family members, who need our love and
attention. They might be ill. We want to provide a shoulder to lean on to our friends in
trouble. We want to help out in our community. We want to do something to make things
lighter for others, and have real connections with people based on respect and care. It's
a natural human trait.
Where did our lives go? Who took them away? How did everything get so narrowed? I wasn't
born to work, go on a few holidays, browse the internet, and die. This isn't fun. This
isn't freedom. I don't feel free at all. I don't care what the politicians say, or the
advertisers who wreck my head daily. If I was free I wouldn't have to turn up to work on
Monday under pain of starvation and homelessness, and then take orders all day like I was
in the army. And no, bullshit corporate leaflets about mental health don't help. If you
mean it, give me shorter hours so I can sleep at night and stop exploiting me while you're
I keep saying to myself I'm not alone. I know I'm not. But I feel alone. This capitalist
society makes us feel so alone. I want to see my friends and have a laugh. I want to care
for my family. I want to have a loving romantic bond. Did you know that younger
generations are giving up on romantic relationships because of the demands of time and
careers? How sad is that? It's not because we're shallow monsters, it's because it's
becoming barely possible.
I want to be part of a community of people who work together and help each other be our
best, through thick and thin. Where is that? Where are our communities? Instead it's just
an onslaught of concrete and demands. They've destroyed them. Thank goodness for the water
charges because the bastards made us come together and re-discover the meaning of
community. I had a community once, in the Barricade Inn social centre on Parnell Street.
That was probably the best time of my life. But the state ripped that apart and left
behind an empty building.
It would drive you to drink. And so many of us do. I'm drinking writing this thing, I have
to do something to calm my brain. We do all sorts of things to escape our situations apart
from drinking, other drugs, sex, TV. It's an epidemic of escape. But ultimately, we never
do escape. We just put it out of our heads for a few hours, and keep going. Everything is
I feel like I'm in a crumbling temple. The people dearest to me are in trouble, wrecked on
the thorns of this merciless conveyor belt world, and I'm basically powerless to help
them. So many of the people I hold dear just can't cope. There's so much mental illness
and anguish around me. And around everyone. It reminds me of the song Under Pressure:
‘It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming, "Let me out!"'
If only I had more time, I could make more of a difference.
John Maynard Keynes was the most influential economist of the 20th century. His mission
was to save capitalism. He wasn't the only one, but even as an advocate of capitalism he
predicted that by now we'd be working a 15 hour week (e.g. 3 hours a day) because of the
massive advances in technology. We've had those massive advances in technology, and we've
had them 100 times over. Where the hell is our 15 hour week? It's such a cheat. The
technology has become so powerful that we can't even believe it's real. But we're still
wasting our lives in front of computer screens, and mucking about warehouses, or whatever
else. And even when the robots come, more so than they already are, that's not going to
make us live better, it's going to screw us.
That's because profit comes first. Not happiness. If happiness came first we'd have a
society where the vast majority of us would have control. We'd organise society so that we
could spend time with the people we care about. We'd live in real communities. We'd do
meaningful work that actually had value and which we got the full fruits of. But no, the
working class are just bits of meat to push around so that the actual interesting and
important people with all the property can climb higher on the economic scoreboard.
There's no clear conclusion to this article. I'm so fed up, and so are you. This isn't
life. We have to do something. I firmly believe that we can create the beautiful free
world we all want and deserve, where every voice is heard and we aren't ground into pulp.
Everyone who can withstand this madness at all inspires me. People have struggled for
freedom who might as well have lived in hell itself. We're so full of genius and art and
wit and graft we can achieve anything if we can get over the sadness and low self-esteem
which those pricks at the top have infected us with. You're not alone, I believe in you.
Subject: Work, Solidarity Times, Mental Health, Alienation
Topics: Economy, Workplace
Author: Ferdia O'Brien
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