The Surplus Crisis

I was very intrigued when we spoke a little about cognitive surplus in class.  I never took the time to give, what I consider “free time” such an elaborate name.  From what I have come to understand, it is the free time we are given by different advances in society, particularly technological.  A simple example is how a calculator allows for quicker math.  What do we do with the time left over? The obvious answer is we fill it with more technology.  I read over the essay “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus” by Clay Shirky and many valid points were brought up.  The idea of surplus has been repeated many times throughout history.  The surplus time after the Industrial Revolution was filled to the brim with gin.  Then came Television after World War II.  This free time was seen almost as a problem. It is only now that we are starting to realize that this cognitive surplus can be an asset.  This is the point that I wanted to share.

Cognitive surplus has boundless potential.  About two hundred billion hours of Television is watched each year in the United States alone, according to Shirky.  This is how people are choosing to spend their surplus time.  Now imagine this time being spent on more productive matters or more interactive ones.  What difference would it have on the world or society?  This time could be used spreading awareness for life changing causes.  It could be spent researching or making technological advances.  It could be spent playing video games online.  At least hand-eye coordination is being exercised while playing a video game.  Im not saying that watching TV is a bad thing in its entirety.  I am just saying that free time is something precious and often taken for granted.  It is something that should be utilized in one way or another.

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