In Praise of Wasting Time

In his book In Praise of Wasting Time, author and MIT Professor Alan Lightman emphasizes how important it is to waste time these days in terms of allowing our minds to roam freely in any direction which opens the gates of creativity by forming new connections from the information already absorbed. Some of his key ideas are as follows.

  • With the advancement of technology, human life should have been slowed down, since machines can do a bulk of tasks that human used to do. But this is not the case. The pace of human life is ever-increasing, as we always seem to be running out of time. The reason is that with efficient machines, the expectations have also increased. With the advent of vacuum cleaner, we expect homes to be ‘more cleaned”.
  • We live in a “wired world”, in which everyone is connected to information. This gives us almost no time for self-reflection.
  • Just as industrialization polluted the atmosphere, the wired world has polluted our minds.
    Cigarettes were once considered a symbol of coolness, masculinity and sophistication. This culture changed after its hazards were acknowledged. We are at a stage where electronics are considered cool. The hazards have to be globally acknowledged before any culture change.
  • There are two kinds of time: “Chronos”, which is measured by clock (quantitative); and “Kairos”, which is referred to as the opportune moment for action (qualitative).


  1. LedBaron

    For now, it’s a competition between humans and machines.

    Best case scenario is mutualism transcending into commensalism.

  2. Nick Hinton (Post author)

    Yes, that’s an interesting view of looking at it.

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