Programmed Free Time
10.11.2005

Our culture is considered a leisure culture. From a psychological point of view, this is a big misunderstanding. For in our culture having "free time" does not mean being idle. When we are not working, our time is not "free" but "programmed." Having free time has become an intolerable state for us because we are possessed by a double fear: the fear of missing something, and the fear of becoming passionately involved if we let ourselves in for something too intensively. Thus free time means above all: freedom from true passions and fateful developments.

Amusement parks have become increasingly popular because they provide us with diverse activities that we dont have to commit ourselves too strongly. We can immerse ourselves in a fixed palette of fantastic and promising mini-worlds. In the process, we are assured of total availability. TV, multiplex cinemas, and the Internet function according to a similar principle. People have all kinds of possibilities, let themselves be given a little buzz, but never really become zealous.
Among todays trendy leisure pursuits are activities such as bungee jumping and gotcha, which simulate the intensity and immediacy of giving oneself over to fate. For a short time people embark on a thrilling adventure that strikes fear into their hearts and ties their stomach into knots but they come out unscathed.

The inline skating boom, however, is a fleeting bout with idleness. However, it is what is important is not the free course of things, but the fact that one can glide aimlessly past reality with no consequences. The skater can pass by everything shops, restaurants, landscapes, vices without participating.

And what does the future hold? A cry for true and intensive leisure experiences, which, paradoxically, will initially result in total programming of free time by means of digital television or cybersex. Subsequently there will be a resurgence of idleness. We will once again desire to freely pursue the adventurous developments of life without a prescribed program.

© 2015 rheingold