For the majority of my life I made one really big mistake: I under-valued the precious nature of the time I’ve been given to live here on earth, and over-valued the short term gratification that comes from digital pleasure.
My entire middle school life was spent playing World Of Warcraft. I easily put in over 100 logged days of play time.
High school was Call of Duty and the start of social media sites. College was heavy social media use. Easily another 100 days.
You might be surprised at the numbers, but the frightening thing is that it’s far easier to hit these numbers than you might think. Chances are you’re hitting them right now without even realizing it.
Looking at your phone for just one hour a day adds up to 22 waking days a year. 22 straight days of just… nothing.
At the end you have nothing to show for it, in the same way that I have nothing to show for all of the hours I invested into gaming and social media.
One thing almost all of us continually forget is that our time is not free. There is an opportunity cost associated with every decision we make, with every hour that we spend.
When we typically think of FOMO (fear of missing out) we think of missing out on the social media updates of the people we follow, cool stuff posted to the front page, new exciting tech announcements, and events happening around the world.
I think this entirely backwards. In the grand scheme of things none of this stuff, when taking into account a finite lifespan, matters nearly as much as we like to think it does.
I would bet my life savings that no one has ever uttered the words “I regret not spending more time scrolling through my feed” while on their deathbed.
The real FOMO, the real thing we should be afraid of, is making choices every day that lead to us missing out on what our lives could have been like.
When we choose to spend an hour on social media or some other kind of mindless distraction, there’s always an associated opportunity cost, a missed opportunity that hour could have been invested in.
22 waking days a year could be invested in building a beautiful body you’re proud of. It could be invested in learning to play a new instrument. It could be invested in advancing your career and landing your dream job. It could be invested in learning a new skill like painting or programming. It could be invested in making real life friends and building a social circle. It could be invested in reading and bettering your mind. The list goes on and on.
Scrolling through feeds is not free. It comes at the expense of the best version of you.
My sincere hope is that this post will help at least one person reading to “get it.” To understand in their core that their life is finite. That they only have so much time here on this planet before it’s their time to go.
It was a realization that hit me like a ton of bricks, and it’s made me start thinking deeply about the remaining time I have left here, and what I want to do with it.
I want to grow, to transcend myself. I want to get better every single day, in my craft and in my character. I want to help others: to end suffering and spread love in as many places as I can. I want connection with the people I love, and to be a positive impact on their life that raises them up.
And I believe deep down there’s a part of you that longs for these things too.
It might be nothing but a faint whisper, drowned out by the temptations to waste an entire Sunday chasing pleasure.
But I can promise you that that part of you has your best interests at heart.
Listening to that voice leads to a life of purpose. It leads to a life of deep fulfillment. It leads to a life of beauty.
The other voice? The one that throws a temper tantrum whenever you’ve been without short term gratification and pleasure for an hour? The one that causes you to miss out on all of the growth and magic in your life?
It leads to nothing good.
You can continue on and change nothing after reading this. You can scroll away byte by byte until your mind is numb and your neck is sore. As a human being you are free to make that choice.
But just know that there will come a time when you will look back on your life wondering where it all went. You will wonder “what could have been” if you used your time differently.
You will regret. A lot.