Humans have an expiration date. You have to admit this. The clock is ticking and every second goes into the past leaving your cycle with one less step to be executed. The thread will inevitably be dead sooner or later(unless you believe in zombies or recurring threads but this is a different story). It is not guaranteed that it will execute its purpose and you never know when the scheduler goes awry and wipes you out. But… You have something. You have now. If you are reading this, you are a living and (I hope) thinking creature. A creature that has some time left.
Our life consists of many parts - we sleep for about 8 hours a day, we work for about the time 5 days a week, we lie around questioning our existence for another hour before or after work depending on our circadian rhythm. Also, we amend our Vim config for a substantial amount of time. We do a lot of stuff that may be worth a couple of other posts. But now I want to speak about the thing you certainly do no matter how old you are. where you are from or what is your puppy middle name(do they have those? they have passports, gosh). I want to speak about the entertainment.
Entertainment enterprise explained by escapists
It is a lovely nice thing we do to escape the dystopian reality we live in that comes closer to the cyberpunk dreams of Philip K. Dick or goddamn Gibson each time Apple/Samsung/Google launches something and ships to a third-world(I mean developing, of course, don’t blame me, I live in one) country. Low live, high tech, you know. Where was I? Oh yeah, entertainment. Mostly, nowadays, this activity involves some kind of screen. It may be a screen of your phone, your 4K TV set, E-Book, laptop, public cinema theatre, you name it. Some of us do sports, drugs or other activities, but in the digital era, digital fun is the most popular one.
You work, you study to get better for work, you optimize your time and get better with what you do. But entertainment is the different thing - there is no need to optimize this - you are just having fun, this area historically does not involve any kind of consideration, planning or analysis, it is a place out of work, so you do the thing that feels better. Right? Wrong. Your life is a whole, why put limits on which approaches should come where? Try to use your serious mind and approach your fun with it. What do you do for fun? You play video games, watch cool stuff on Netflix and YouTube, read 9gag and Twitter, traverse Facebook feed and Reddit. What does it bring to you? A bunch of useless information about the people you don’t care about, life-changing experiences that did not happen to you but the magic of video and plot design does let you feel that you are living through that, aggression throwaway by killing other people online and a few memes.
Junk life is no life
Let’s bring in the analogy. There is healthy food and junk food - first is delicious mostly if you are used to it and get a whip of the diet, the second is created to be tasty enough for you to want to eat it despite its malicious effect in the long-term. Your stomach intestines are a machine to process food and extract energy from it, your brain also is a processing engine. It processes information. Not all information is equally good. It may feel good but is actually junk. Most of the modern entertainment industry serves the purpose of getting your money one way or another. Those people want you to feel like you are getting something valuable(feelings, information, a lesson for life), but actually, you are not. If you get proper food and stick to a diet, your digestive system will function properly and you will be feeling good. The same goes for your brain. In order to create something valuable, it needs to deconstruct something valuable.
If all you get is letsplays, dumb comedies and so-so clickbaity news about celebs and crime, you are highly unlikely to produce something with better quality with your mind. There is a lot of stuff in the world you don’t yet know about: Sumerians, Lead 70-s in Italy, Enlightened monarchs, von Neumann, Claude Shannon, Dwarf Fortress, Nestor Makhno. There are better ways and better material to read, watch, play and think over than the featured stuff you are fed with by mainstream. Mainstream is oriented on the average citizen - a person with moderate views, absent taste that is not willing to get much information for consideration. Their expected audience expects most of the a-ha moments to be chewed and fermented for them. It affects the depth of material, the real meaning of certain events and dumbs down ideas you may get from your media. Don’t fool yourself, seek for the source, not for the preprocessed semifabricate.
I was a bing-watcher of YouTube gaming channels, humor and TV shows for a long time. I was hooked up on Twitter and Telegram channels. I was spending most of my free time watching and reading useless stuff on the Internet. Resolving this was hard but possible. First of all, you need to get yourself starving on the information. Isolate yourself from the usual fun and wait until you desperately need some. Then open a book that you wanted to read for a long time, an arthouse movie a friend suggested to you, anything that looks healthier than usual. This will be a start. Then fight the desire to skip back to the junk and stay on the light side. It will be worth it.
I am a software engineer and I try to be a good one. In order to do this, it is important to stay focused, motivated and willing to work in the domain. History of the field is not that long, about 70 years, but it is filled up with media to learn about the way it developed. There are books written by another engineer about their life, credo, work, and mission. There are people like Alan Kay, Dennis Ritchie, Linus Torvalds, and Simon Peyton Jones. There are films about how certain technologies started. There are blogs of people who paved the way to the current prominence of the digital world. There is a lot to unpack in that history: from errors and issues in software and hardware that led to catastrophes to partly unseen and exotic ways of Computer Science in the USSR, France, and Sweden. There is the culture around my domain and this culture is reach and worthy.
All lives are final
So, you have a resource - time and a way to use that resource - entertainment. Time is limited, your desire for entertainment is endless. It is better to plan what you will digest into your information tube the next time. Look through the watchlists, read lists, playlists of other people in order to get some aspiration. Last.fm may suit for music, Goodreads is great if you want to get some suggestions on less well-known great literature to read, for movies you can just traverse shortlists of famous awards and personal blogs of people that are not critics but love movies - some of them may suggest you pretty good directors and movies to get your spot on. You should be able to build up a journey for your free time that will make you better, enable you to know more, be more motivated, have more ideas, feel more. Set the flow, don’t stay in the flow that is dictated to you.
One of the possible directions to go is an era immersion. Choose some time period like the Roman Empire, Enlightenment, 60-s or 90-s in the USA or another part of the world and start gathering cultural artifacts of that era. Music, movies(from that era or about it), books, biographies, art. Try to get yourself into the era and get the hang of it. It may give you a lot of inspiration and fun on the way. It is not limited to the actual history of mankind, it also may be some fictional universe like Lord of The Rings, WH40K, heck, Marvel universe also has some great and deep storylines.
Sometimes professional development also needs some motivation. There are popularly written books on the history of a lot of professions, biopics, and biographies. Knowing personalities in the field lets you wire yourself with the industry a bit closer and reflect their experience on your own. For engineers, there are tons of techno-porn in sci-fi, cyberpunk and other tech-related genres that will load you up with energy to stand up and do stuff to get the world from the screen or page closer to you. For historians, there are loads of stuff on National Geographic, YouTube and all over the internet. The web is open to you but it is useless unless you shift your focus.
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Also, try to get yourself out of the digital world sometimes. Transhumanism is soon to come and we will all be in the Matrix without an ability to walk under the sun having fun in the virtual reality, so you gotta enjoy the real world while you can be in one. On a serious note, our minds and bodies need a variety of activities in order to function properly. Having all your fun before the screen and your head is not the ultimate way. Cycling, other sports, low-level electronics with wires and magnifiers, carving and steelworks, there are ways to feel the same joy in the real world as you do virtually. This way you will be able to enjoy both real and virtual world pleasures not feeling too full on some side.
Most importantly - don’t divide fun and work into two different and disjoint worlds. Try to have fun when you work and get benefits while you play around. This is the same life in both cases. Make it holistic, make it worth it.