AlienationSep 23, 2005
Now here is a damn fine piece of writing.
Read that essay, and then pardon me while I dabble in a bit of stereotypically-bloggy self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-indulgent blathering —
I've been thinking a lot about alienation, but I hadn't labelled it as such. Putting a name on the problem makes it so much more understandable. So much of our daily life is just reflex and rote.
The thing that bothers me a lot at this point in my life is that I can't keep in touch with my friends worth a shit. My closest friends I see bimonthly if I'm lucky. I don't know how it happens, exactly, except my schedule just runs away from me. I can only deal with so many commitments in a given week, and my job takes up enough time and mental energy that that commitment threshold has gotten pretty low.
I used to be so much more social. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I do have some responsibilities that I didn't back in the day. I have a fiancee who I want to spend a lot of time with. If I leave my cats in the house while I'm out all day, I feel guilty later on.
Mainly, though, I think it's the tyranny of planning. I don't have consistent free time, not a lot of standing gaps in my schedule, and everyone I care about has the same issue, so you've got to plan your time together weeks in advance if not months. That usually just seems like a gigantic pain in the ass, and often I find myself chickening out, because I don't know if a month from now I'm going to want to go drink beers with friends, or just sit in my living room and try to gather myself.
I don't know what the solution is. My fiancee and I want to have children, which is going to bring a lot of joy into our lives but will make this problem even more significant. We want to have a dog at some point, and then we'll need to come back to the house much more frequently to walk and feed it.
We've discussed the idea of both taking part-time jobs, which seems promising to me. I wonder if that will just serve to alienate me further from my friends with full-time jobs, since we aren't even on a similar schedule anymore —
How do we fix this? At what point did life start to be this way? Is it just time-of-life, or is it time-in-history? In 1900, did 31-year-olds feel like this? In 1950? In 1980?
I have a cell phone, and VoIP with free long-distance anywhere in the country, and I never call anybody. I'm on email probably 14 hours a day, and I never write my friends. I've been working on a short film for three years now, and just can't get the final bit of editing done. The idea of getting regular exercise is laughable. I want to be a writer, but I've honestly never been able to stick with it until I started this blog.
Is it that productivity has increased in the workplace to the point where we can't be productive at home? Or is that just an illusion, and are we much less productive these days?
How do we free our time enough to wander?
If you liked this, you're welcome to read more of my blatherings.