I don’t hold out much hope for humanity anymore, not since I read the following startling statistic: The average person will spend more than six years of their life on social media—six years debating politics, envying their friends’ vacations and drooling over pictures of other people’s lunch.
Not only that, if we’re average, we’ll spend more than eight years of our life watching Naked and Afraid, Jerry Springer reruns and other inspirational television programming. Actually, I don’t know what everyone’s watching, but I will say this: When Karl Marx described religion as the opiate of the masses, he’d never seen cable news.
The point is, if we’re average, we’ll have around 78 years on this planet and we’ll spend almost 15 of them on drivel. Before you go thinking that leaves us with more than 60 years of productivity, let me remind you we’ll spend around 26 years sleeping. One third of our lives gone, poof, and we haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. Then we’ll get up and eat for around four years, which is a really long lunch—even for me.
We’ll walk around for a full year looking for our reading glasses, car keys and whatever else we regularly misplace. We’ll stand in line for five years of our life and we’ll spend 43 entire days listening to recorded messages asking us to please hold because our business is so darned important.
I couldn’t find any evidence to back this up, but I figure we’ll spend the remainder of our precious time on earth deleting spam and blocking robocalls. But I found the rest of these shocking statistics on the internet. And it took me approximately 12 years to do it because I kept getting sidetracked by fascinating headlines like “The Best Tacos in Every State” and “Are You Making This Huge Mistake with Peaches?”
At any rate, if my math is correct, and there’s no guarantee of that, the most productive thing we’ll do for almost 50 years of our life is sleep and eat—and maybe find our reading glasses.
Mind you, these are averages. I’m sure I’ve used my allotted one year looking for misplaced items, and quite possibly a couple months of yours as well. And I know I’ll spend way more than 43 days of my life on hold, since that’s how I spent the entire month of June.
Even if you don’t believe everything you read on the internet, and it’s probably best that you don’t, it’s clear we’re wasting a lot of time. How will we ever make progress as a species if we only have 78 years on average, and we spend so many of them doing so little? We have met the enemy and he’s sitting on the couch eating chicken wings and binge watching NCIS reruns.
It’s easier to think positively when you get 26 years of sleep though, and I do see a ray of hope. I think researchers have failed to consider the amazing ability of us average folks to watch television and eat lunch at the same time. Plus, everyone I’m standing in line with for five years is staring at their smartphones, probably going through their social media feed. And while, if we’re average, we’ll waste seven years of our lives trying to fall asleep, I’m sure many of us are watching TV and tweeting while we’re doing it. That may explain why it’s taking seven years to fall asleep.
But that means all those years sleeping, eating and standing in line are running concurrently with our TV and social media years. Thanks to multitasking, we still have plenty of years left over to save the world—or play computer solitaire. Way to be productive, average person!
Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact [email protected]
Multitasking to save the world; six hours on social media