The Fantasy of Downtime
Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve been attracted to dystopian or medieval themes in entertainment. I’ve found myself choosing to watch shows about the future where humanity is close to extinction, and the past, long before the industrial revolution. Sometimes I’ll watch fantasies about a magical, mystical world, with medieval technologies. No electricity, no screens, no notifications.
- Station Eleven
- Raised By Wolves
- Game of Thrones
Those are the five main shows I’ve watched in the last year. All of them feature characters and plots with lots of downtime. There are no phones, few if any screens, and civilization is small, almost nonexistent.
In these television shows, people have time to think.
Yes, there is drama and trauma, but while I watch those shows, I see people who have time to sit around and not think about a phone, a screen, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, how well their latest blog is doing, or whether their internet-connected camera doorbell is working right.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to the fantasy of long periods of reflection.
All of the great writers and composers had downtime. By today’s standards, they had a lifetime of downtime. All that empty space in time gave them the pause they needed to write songs and stories that we now cherish as classics. Sometimes I wonder if we even have the time to write what would be a classic book or song again.
I’m a writer for a number of reasons. I’m hearing impaired, so I go inside for peace. I work in IT so I’m always around tech, working around tech, and I see something of what we’ve become. I have known life before ubiquitous computing. I know how the mental narrative has changed. I know that most of us, including myself, are at least a little bit addled by all the gizmos around us.
But mostly, I write because it makes me think. And to be able to think, I need downtime.
I get the downtime I need by virtue of being a morning person. I rise automatically sometime between 4 and 5 am…