The Hang-Out Problem

Written by Timothy E. Lewis — Feb. 11th, 2016


“Yo bro, what’s up? You trying to chill?”

or,

“Hey girl, what are you doing later? Let’s hang out.”

These are among the most dangerous phrases in existence. First and foremost, we must recognize what “chill” and “hang out,” imply. To observe at surface value, the words themselves indicate immobility and stagnation.

We live in a world where society mandates how we spend our most valuable resource: Time. It comes in the form of work hours, classes, meetings, exercise — The list goes on. Within this article, the focus is on adolescents and young adults, for out of all demographics, they tend to have more flexible schedules and less responsibility. So, what’s the big deal with hanging out with one’s friends during free-time?

Bingo. The overbearing assumption here is that time is free. Truly, such could not be more contrary to the truth. The proof is in the wording, displayed whenever we say we are “spending time” with someone. It is our existential currency.

The average person in the United States has 4,094.5 weeks to live, but we spend a third of that time sleeping. One third. Thirty-three percent. So, if death ends our time, then sleep qualifies as our god-given taxes. This translates to only 66% of our time being truly available. Properly adjusted, we have about 2,702 weeks, 18,916.5 days, or 453,996 hours in our lifetime. This measurement doesn’t account for time in traffic, hygienic behaviors, illness, or any other form of time-consumption that encompasses segments of the average person’s life.

On the blip of creation’s radar, this time is our totality. Just as a person can win the lottery, balloon up 300 lbs., and die of heart disease, a person can also win the lottery, invest wisely, and change the world. The importance is always in how we apply our resources. By being alive, we have effectively won the lottery.

I’m going to be brutally honest: Hanging out is a waste of time. It is an admission of inhibition. It is the denial of reality in favor of fun, the expressed desire to allocate time to that which has narrow purpose. Sitting with friends and Netflixing, video gaming, pot-smoking, drinking— these are all distractions for a mind that craves its own numbing. By doing so, the action is no better than setting hard earned dollars on fire. This is not to equate time and money, as the former is undeniably more valuable than the latter. Rather, it is to paint a picture of futility, of one receiving opportunity with no ambition other than to squander it.

When we find ourselves in a situation like the one being described, WE must serve as inspiration and the opportunity, both for ourselves and those we wish to elevate. The people we choose to share our time with are hand-selected family. As with all choices, however, we must make them wisely. A friendship that does not improve the quality of life but merely maintains or detracts from it, is in its very essence, unproductive. The short-term gratification of hang-out mindlessness manifests itself into displeasure with other aspects of life, in turn motivating us to return to our bubble of stagnation and comfort.

We must challenge ourselves, our friends, those whose company we enjoy. We must harness our collective chemistry, collaborate for cause, and strive towards our potential.

Living and existing are not the same.


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