Free time may not really be time that’s ‘free’ - GulfToday

Free time may not really be time that’s ‘free’

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


The photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

When you have seven or more hours on your hands with nothing in particular to do, do you feel dissatisfied with your life in general or about your self-worth? Well, according to a study carried out by the American Psychological Association this is indeed the case.

Free time is often a misnomer though because it can mean different things to different people. Whereas for some it can be a godsend, for others, depending upon who they are and what they do, it can be the bane of their very existence, or even other people’s existence.  I’m thinking about retirees, the unemployed, the self-employed, housewives and househusbands, and, of course, university students and school pupils.

We all know that retirement is overrated; ask any retiree who ever thought about what it would be like once they stopped their 9 to 5 job. All those visions of not having to get up early and go to work are very soon replaced by visions of being able to get up early and go to work, especially if the retiree is not one to travel, take up a hobby or even take part in community activities. Many retirees spend their days getting under the feet of their wives, criticising how she has always done things at home, leaving her wishing he’d spend his daytime away from the house. Now this criticism and what some might consider as interfering in the wife’s daily routine might not be classed as having 7 or more hours a day free time, but that is certainly how it comes across to the wife. Who’s happy? Neither, I should imagine. Clearly the husband is looking to do something to fill his time.

For the unemployed, having too much free time is especially tough. After all, most working people look forward to their weekends and holidays but for the unemployed every day is the same. There are only so many CVs they can send out and only so many phone calls they can make before their spirit is broken to the point of not wanting to do anything, even eat, drink or bathe. For them, it’s not just a seven-hour hell, but a 24/7 hell. Believe me when I say that it is not a permanent holiday for them and those who wilfully give up a job because they didn’t like it soon realise their mistake.

That being said, I think that most people, like me, who are run off their feet all day, or even part of a day, probably look forward to their downtime when they can do little else but watch TV or browse the internet or spend time WhatsApping their friends. This includes people who work outside the home, those who work part-time, those who work inside the home and even those who work from home. But hang on, I hear you say. If you’re watching TV for hours or browsing the internet or messaging your friends, you’re not really doing nothing, are you? That is true so the question is how does the American Psychological Association define ‘free time’? No one really just sits there doing absolutely nothing. And to be honest, even someone who appears to be doing absolutely nothing may be doing breathing exercises or meditating. Isn’t that what monks do? I believe their religion is about contemplating things and that involves fully focusing their minds on their thoughts which means doing nothing but that for the allotted time.

But I believe that there is one section of our community that should not have free time in which they have nothing to do; I’m talking about teenagers and university students. Remember the old saying, ‘the devil makes work for idle hands’? Well, that saying is almost certainly true for many young people.

When left to their own devices, young people have invariably gotten themselves into trouble with the law or their community. Frat parties, sorority house parties and young children roaming around the streets or building corridors have often caused mischief. Know the game, ‘knock down ginger’? or as the Americans would say, ‘ding dong ditch’? Well that game was invented by young unsupervised kids with time on their hands. Know the word, ‘hazing’? Well that game is an initiation invented by frat houses at American universities; invented by young, unsupervised adults left to their own devices. In these cases, free time is indeed a bane for other people’s existence.

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