Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you experience any social pressure to do things that are more productive?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) February 15th, 2013

So we have free time. We might tinker in the garage and invent a more comfortable shoe or a device that cuts energy use in half. Or we might doodle around on a piano or we might go out and spend all our free time gambling or drinking or having sex.

In a free country, it’s your choice. Gamble away your money, or watch TV or play video games or make music or art or invent something that might change many people’s lives.

Do you experience any pressure to be an inventor instead of a game player? What form does that pressure take? Does it make you change your behavior at all?

Do you ever pressure anyone else to be more “productive?” Do you pressure yourself? In what way do you do these things?

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12 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Nah, I don’t pressure anyone to be productive. A lot of people I know and hang out with are very successful, so who am I to tell them what to do in the free time that they have?!

Myself having down time is a rare luxury, and I still feel productive even if I’m reading a book and relaxing. If I do feel like I’m watching too much tv, I’ll stop and go walk or something more productive though.

Jaxk's avatar

I for years, tried to find a way to make some of my daily activities more productive. For instance I would read a lot but I enjoyed fiction. I thought if I could get into reading more useful things, foreign languages or history, maybe biographies, I would learn more. I couldn’t do it. Boring was the result. The only way I have found that actually helped my learning curve was to join this site. I not only learn from others but I find that the research I do to answer questions adds immeasurably to my overall knowledge. I don’t necessarily agree with everyone nor do I convince anyone but I feel better about myself. That’s good enough.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Jaxk thought you were describing me for a minute there :P

YARNLADY's avatar

I often feel internal pressure to do something productive, but it’s very mild.

wildpotato's avatar

Yes, very much so. It seems like all my peer-friends are super-busy, successful, and insanely productive. I just feel this massive inertia; I have no idea how they do it. It’s mind-boggling to me to contemplate doing enough things that I would need to use something like iCal – even looking at the thing makes me want to curl up under a pile of coats. I have been playing video games and messing around on the internet for three years in an irrational effort to avoid finishing my degree work. I certainly pressure myself, but I can’t do it too directly or I just start panicking. I feel enormous external pressure from my parents, peers, and society in general, but I’m trying to be proud of myself for taking small steps to roll the inertia-boulder back up the hill.

Shippy's avatar

I used to. I used to be incredibly inventive and innovative. Now just moving around and having a shower is innovative to me.

burntbonez's avatar

I often feel like I should be reading instead of watching a movie. Then I feel like I should read literature instead of mysteries or spy stories. But what difference does it make? In the end, we’re all just as dead, and a couple of generations later, no one remembers who we were.

augustlan's avatar

I used to feel external pressure quite a lot. In my last years of high school, I was the classic ‘under-achiever’...never living up to my potential, and teachers didn’t hesitate to tell me so. I skipped school a lot, and even had a boyfriend break up with me over it because I wasn’t responsible enough (I was 15.) Then I worked mostly low-pressure jobs for a good while, and people would always ask me why I wasn’t doing something more. I asked myself, too, so there was internal pressure at that point. Doing good in the world was an area I felt I fell far short of. Decided to volunteer at a boys’ home, but so many of them were abused that it triggered PTSD in me and I couldn’t continue. I really beat myself up on that one.

Between dealing with anxiety issues and health issues I usually have a realistic view of what I’m capable of and what I’m not, these days. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about what I do with my time, free or otherwise, and I’m much more forgiving of myself.

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes I feel that pressure. Mostly it is from within me. I feel like if I were more productive I would feel happier, not that I am sad, but have a feeling of accomplishment.

When it is from other people it usually comes in the form of, “so what do you do? Are you bored?” Or, sometimes someone will ask me what I am doing tomorrow, and often my answer is, “going to zumba, do some laundry, run some errrands.” Doesn’t sound like much right?

Ron_C's avatar

Some people like my stories and editorials that I write. They’ve urged me to write a book but I don’t think that I have a whole book in me.

wundayatta's avatar

I wish I had a book in me. Maybe if I had more discipline I could do it. But it sounds like a lot of work, and it’s so speculative. You never know if you’ll make any money on it. And if I’m not going to make money, why bother? I can write stuff on fluther and know a few people will read it for free. Why would I put in all that work to have no one read it? No. That would kill me. If that means I’m unproductive or not reaching my potential, so fucking what? At least I’m alive.

Mariah's avatar

Interesting question! My answer is an emphatic YES but it’s not societal pressure, it’s internal. I define productivity as doing anything that betters me.

It peaked when I was about 13 and learning to draw. At that age I was really, really driven to get good. When I had free time and wasn’t drawing, I was beating myself up about it. But everybody knows that the inspiration/motivation just isn’t always there.

I would have been something really great by now if I had kept up that attitude. Miserable, yeah, but a damn good artist. But at 14 I got sick. And because my body wasn’t being nice to me, I couldn’t afford to let my brain be mean to me too. I let myself zone out in front of video games for hours on end because I needed something easy in my life.

Come age 17 I have my near death experience and for the whole summer afterwards I don’t waste a second. I wake up early every day and I do something productive and creative until the sun sets. I study, I draw, I sculpt, I carve, I write, I exercise. I picked up a lot of hobbies during that time. It was a bit of a frenzy, all motivated by that scare – who has time to waste when you could die at any moment?

I think that was too intense for me while I was still so sick. It was absolutely wonderful while it lasted, but I burned out quick. One day in late August I remember feeling very low all of a sudden and sitting down in front of the TV. It felt strange and wrong but it was like I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.

I stayed lazy for the next year, my senior year of high school. I was also in a lighter course load. I needed rest. My junior year had been nothing but school work and sickness.

Then of course I had my very brief failed attempt at college before coming home for a year and a half and getting surgery. That time at home was very hard, but it was transformative. Obviously I had many moments of laziness, I couldn’t have healed without them, but it was such a long stretch of stagnation in my life and I would have gone insane if I hadn’t filled it with something productive. I felt insecure about the way my life had stagnated and I needed to feel I was using the time to better myself. I answered every math question I could get my hands on here. I bought crafting books and tried some new things. I worked out three times a week. I took a multivariable calculus class online. I learned songs on the piano. I figured out that maybe drawing wasn’t exactly my “thing,” but that didn’t mean that creativity wasn’t. I found there were art forms I could partake in that didn’t feel like work, in fact they put me in sort of a meditative state where I felt very relaxed. One of them being jewelry making, and I got really into it, even sold a few pieces online. My days were full again, and this time it was lasting. I went through a really rough spell after my hardest surgery, but after I clawed my way out of that hole I found I looked forward to each day. It was amazing to find I could still feel that way when I had been sitting at home attempting to entertain myself for so long. I used to go stir crazy during a 2 month long summer vacation, and here I managed to stay content for 15 months. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had just sat on my ass. I needed that productivity.

Then I made the glorious return to college, and for awhile the change of pace knocked me on my ass. Going from a time in which the most I accomplished in a week was to make some jewelry and drag myself to the gym a couple times, to the workload and social frenzy that is college was tough, but so great. For awhile I only had the energy to do my work, hang out with my friends, and fall flat on my back into my bed.

I’m a sophomore now and I’m used to the pace of college, and I’ve learned I actually thrive in this environment. Yeah, sometimes when I’m working extra hard I come back from class and only want to Fluther. Other times I somehow find the energy to hit the gym, work on my novel, and mathematically model complex systems for an app I’m hoping to produce before graduation. I don’t know why it is that during the busiest time of my life, this desire to do even more becomes strongest, but I’m okay with it. I feel better about myself than I ever have before.

Jesus sorry about the novel. Your question made me think!

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