One of the dreaded questions that people ask me, is what I do with my free time, now that I’m unemployed. I have a strong sense that people are judging me, and that the only acceptable answers are the ones that are somehow productive or personally fulfilling.
The “productive” answers are that I am applying to jobs. I am “building my resume”. I lead the Ace Community Survey Team.
The “personally fulfilling” answers are that I maintain two and a half blogs. I am an origamist.
The more embarrassing answer is, I browse the internet. I watch youtube videos.
Watching youtube sounds pretty sad, but would it sound less sad if I were more specific?
There’s a lot of media criticism, criticism of video games, TV, movies, music, and a bit of internet culture. Note, I don’t actually like most video games, TV, or movies, so I usually avoid reviewers who try to answer the question “Should you watch/buy this?” and instead find critics who talk about what media says and how we relate to it. I also watch a bit of leftist youtube. I keep up with new music releases. There’s a bit of speedrunning and let’s-playing in the mix. And probably the most niche thing I watch is competitive Dominion. So there you go.
I’m not really sure what to think about all this. On the one hand, you could say that I should be doing something more productive. Like programming and statistics exercises, since that’s what I’d use in my future job. But on the other hand, it’s frustrating how arbitrary these rules are–these internal rules I have about what activities are acceptable or unacceptable.
For example, my internal rules say watching videos is unacceptable, but reading books is acceptable. Why? Books are just another form of media, not necessarily any more enlightening or challenging than a video essay. My internal rules also say that travelling is an acceptable excuse for taking an extended break from work, but browsing the internet is not. Why is that?
And to what extent are these rules internally imposed, or externally imposed? One of the things that mystifies me about my husband is that he doesn’t seem to have the same rules, and he is often happy to spend the whole day doing something I would consider wasteful. And the idea that it’s wasteful doesn’t even occur to him. I admire this. He still tells me that I should spend more time looking for jobs.