A daily commentary by the Swans


July 24, 1996

(Free Speech)


by Nancy Wycoff

All right Gilles, so maybe I am a #*@*# lazy bitch, but I guard (my) time jealously and I pick my commitments very carefully (Gilles has dropped several hints that I should join the regular contributors to SWANS). I often wonder at what seems to have been an abundance of time that once existed in this world. Even though previous generations did not enjoy the extended average lifetime that we have now, their lives were lived at a more leisurely pace with time to raise families, master a trade, study the classics and, for a few, even time for travel.

Don't think I am totally naive in thinking that life before the computer (or even before the industrial revolution) was pure bliss. I'm very aware of and grateful for the many scientific advances that have smoothed many of the bumps on life's highway. We have had to make sacrifices, though, and the most tragic is time.

We are surrounded by bandits that rob us of what I believe is the essence of life - time. What are these bandits? The most notorious is probably the television. It steals away with our life's time by the hour each day. It lulls us into a stupor in which our lives are lived vicariously and we come off the viewing assembly line molded into perfect consuming machines. Waiting lines also rob us of time - at the post office, the airport, government offices, grocery stores, etc. And what about this computer and the Web? How much time is lost while we stare vacantly at the screen while waiting for the machine to download, boot, search or back up? If we could only retrieve the time we've spent sitting in traffic many of us would gain years to our lives. When we tally all this lost time and subtract it from the increased average lifetime I think we will probably find we're losing out.

So here we are plummeting along at a frantic pace, trying desperately to fit it all in and here I am submitting an article to SWANS with the condition that I not be required to commit the time to write regular articles. Why bother now, you may ask - I thought that since Gilles is passing another annual milestone I would give him what I consider to be the most precious of gifts. He can have an article in reserve to pull out and use some day when he finds time a little short. Happy Birthday, Gilles.

Thank you for reading!


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Copyright © 1996, Nancy Wycoff.