Continuing my reading of Gregg Easterbrook's book, The Progress Paradox, I discover that the amount of leisure time has signicantly increased in the last 100 years. Back in 1880 the typical adult American male had 11 hours per week for relaxation and now it is over 40. (p.29)
Similarly 100 years ago 50% of an American adult's waking hours was spent in some form of imposed labor and know it is a little under 20 percent.
Why then do we feel so stressed and like we don't have enough time for things?
Probably because we voluntarily fill up our days with trips, sports, shopping, transporting kids, watching TV, etc. The constant bombardment of electronic media: TV, cel phones, radio, Ipods, flashing billboards, etc. provides a sensory stimulating environment which is draining and exhausting.
However stressful we find our days, the fact is that leisure time, once the province of the rich and elite class, is now available to everyone if they want it.
Another way of looking at this issue of time is the length of the life span. In 1870 the average lifespan of the British upper class was 17 years longer than the population as a whole, whereas now days there are no class differences.
Interestingly, especially for our youth, it appears that the amount of leisure time is debilitating. Youth has a sense of ennui, and uselessness as they while away their days playing video games and surfing the net for chat rooms. The youth suicide rate is up in the last twenty years perhaps because youth increasingly have nothing to live for. Not much is expected or required of them. The days of working on the family farm, doing chores taking care of livestock, are over. Without purpose, without work to do, people die.
Is too much leisure a bad thing for people and society? Only we can decide. There is no question that we have more of it on our hands.