“Too much time on their hands”

It’s OK to veg

too much timeI’m self-analyzing why I so loathe the phrase, “They must have too much time on their hands.” I heard it recently. It wasn’t directed at me or anyone specifically. Still, it raised some irrational ire in me.

It’s partly that non-conventional people are often nudged into being more like “everyone else.” I have a specific example, but since it’s someone else’s story to tell, I shan’t.

Maybe it’s that I get such JOY in what some people think is a waste of time. For instance, those people who set out a bunch of dominoes, just to set them off in an intricate design. It took many hours to set them up, and just a few minutes to have them create the display. And one misplaced domino can ruin the effect.

Likewise, those folks who set up the Rube Goldbergesque contraptions – my spellcheck likes Goldbergesque! – bring me joy. But it doesn’t have to be entertaining or useful. I don’t feel the need to be a scold.

Now if it were just “Not my cuppa,” we’d be talking Arthur’s Law – I like this song, you like that movie.

But “too much time on their hands” feels judgier. (My spellcheck does NOT like that word OR “more judgy.”) It is as though only certain categories of activities are “customary”, e.g., work, housework, volunteer work for acceptable entities. But you shouldn’t be doing that OTHER stuff because your purpose in life should be… well, whatever “I” think it ought to be.


You would think that, after a year of COVID, people would be more tolerant of “time wasters.” Sometimes, playing video games on the phone or tablet is precisely the right thing for me to maintain a modicum of sanity.

Hey, maybe I’ll watch some “junk television” programs that are not at all informative. Although who knows what you’ll learn. An 11-year-old girl used blue slime to help identify her would-be kidnapper. She got the idea from watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. You may wonder if an 11-year-old should even be watching SVU, but it’s not my call.

I guess I want us to be more gentle, less prescriptive about other people’s lives, as long as no actual harm is done.

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