Can a con artist fool you? Perhaps not that easily if you are paying attention. Are you always paying attention? Perhaps not, otherwise how would those industries trick you to believe you should pay for stuff you do not really need, or waste your time on things that are not worth it? Those guys are not necessarily evil. Some of them just got fancy degrees in sales and marketing and are doing their job well, while some others are just like you not paying attention and not thinking about consequences.
Let’s take a look at a candy store. Which type of candy looks most attractive to a kid? Perhaps, the one that’s the brightest red and the sweetest. Why is that? Kids do not think about it, they just want it. Why? Because their instinct telling them that it is good. Why is that? Of course, instinct has no concept of candy. Candy was not around tens of thousands of years ago. Instinct was trained on berries. Riper is better, sweeter is better, bright red is a good sign. This instinct gave people a competitive advantage back then. Now it is exploited by candy manufacturers. Artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup are not a good replacement to berries. In fact, they do more harm than good to your body.
Now that you understand it, shall you trash that candy and buy berries instead, or will you keep eating candy? What you think?
Now let’s look at sport on TV. It feels like it is important which team wins. Of course, because you have an instinct for that! Again, your ancestors got it tens of thousands of years ago. It was vitally important which tribe won the battle over resources. Look what happened to Neanderthals when they run out of luck! How about that game you watch - what is going to happen if your team loses? Will you die? Will you starve? Will you be kicked out of your house? Yes, it feels like that - thanks to your instincts - but is it true?
How about video games? There are many different types of video game. Each of them push on some sort of instincts. Video games that did not push on instincts disappeared from the market because people did not feel urge to play them. We have an instinct to explore, to look for resources and accumulate them. We have an instinct to fight back when attacked. We have an instinct to solve puzzles. Those instincts make us feel good when we follow them. That’s why we play - to feel good. It feels good until we realize that we are indeed wasting our life on something that pretends to be important by fooling our instincts. Then it feels bad.
Are all of those video games bad? How about games in general? Is chess bad? Of course not. We can learn some important skills by playing some games, including video games. But it is only justifiable when we consciously compare time we spent and benefits we gain versus alternative learning options, and make an educated decision. By the way, skills that can only be used in games do not count. If you are a pilot, then spending time on a good flight simulator is a plus, otherwise it is likely waste of time. Still, it is a grey area. If you are not sure, do not play. Your time is very precious resource. Do not risk wasting it.
I realize, that my advice contradicts the folk wisdom: “Listen to your body. Listen to your gut feeling” Your inner self knows better what is good for you.” Sure, playing videogames feels good. Same as an electrode in the pleasure center of the rat’s brain. But your brain is tuned up for the environment with no videogames or TV, just like rat’s brain is only meant to function properly without that electrode. Sadly, it is not just that rat that died of exhaustion while ignoring food in favor of electrode stimuli; some video game gamers dies of exhaustion too.
Suppose you stop wasting time on watching sport and playing video games. You now have got a lot of spare time. What do you do with it? Of course, you can do something for yourself, like cook something healthy or go to a gym. Maybe you will play some real sports, which is much better than watching it on a TV or playing a sports video game from the couch.
But, even though jogging and healthy eating is clearly better for you than TV sport show watching and video gaming, does it give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment? After all, it is all vanity of vanities, right? Sure it is, until you step outside of it and make an impact on the future. You can do it in a good way, like Maria Montessori, who started Montessori education system, and in a bad way, like Herostratus who destroyed the Temple of Artemis.
If you are sick enough to prefer making your impact the Herostratus way, I’d prefer you to keep watching sport and playing videogames. Better yet, seek some help from a psychiatrist.
Otherwise, you can work on future needs of the community, your country and the planet. The World is still far from perfect. There are wars, corrupt governments, nuclear weapon, poverty, deadly diseases, global warming, etc. You cannot change it instantly, but you can do something to make our future brighter.
If you have some scientific or technical background, you can spend your spare time on planet-saving research like fighting global warming or protecting Earth from asteroids. It could be too big for a single person, but perhaps you can find like-minded people and join your efforts.
If you are an artist or writer, you can teach people to be better, to love, to care, and to warn them from bad decisions by teaching them about consequences.
Regardless of your background, you can volunteer in a school, community center, educational non-profit. You can help educating kids, share your knowledge and experience with them. Why does the future need this, rather than the present? Because currently kids have little impact on the planet, but decades from now they will be shaping the world.
Thank you for reading this. Stay alert and don’t hesitate to question folk’s wisdom!