How we waste time!
December 6, 2018 11:45 AM   Subscribe

“People say that their loved ones matter the most, but the way they divide their time doesn't bear that out. This is because of how the brain works: we are programmed to avoid thinking about the time left to us to live.” - Why a Christmas drinks advert has all of Spain sobbing posted by beisny (46 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can visit the website here if you want to know how much time you have left with those you love.

This might be the least enticing "Click here!"-style prompt I've ever encountered on the internet.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:56 AM on December 6 [35 favorites]


It also sent me straight to spam.
posted by agregoli at 12:00 PM on December 6


And the Spam took 15 minutes off the end of my life!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:01 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]


I'm the kind of weirdo who keeps a spreadsheet with updated life expectancies of myself and a few close family members. I also keep track of how often I see them. So it was pretty easy to do a home-brew version of this for myself using actual personal data.

I'm actually surprised at how high the projections came out. Like, I stand to get a pretty good amount of quality time yet with my dad. So no tears, I guess? (I haven't watched the commercial yet.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:15 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Ridiculous sad waste of time, stretching before and after...
TS Eliot
posted by Oyéah at 12:15 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Framing technology as the problem is a little weird, even if it's partly true. But I guess a big corporation isn't going to run an ad saying that our political and economic systems are a big part of why people don't get to spend as much time as they'd like with people they love (and, yes, the psychology mentioned in the ad).
posted by asnider at 12:16 PM on December 6 [14 favorites]


Wait But Why: The Tail End
I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood.

Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.

When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. If I lay out the total days I’ll ever spend with each of my parents—assuming I’m as lucky as can be—this becomes starkly clear.

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:20 PM on December 6 [44 favorites]


Aw.

I think I'm comfortable with the amount of time I spend with my US-based friends and family, but where I've thought about this the most is with regards to the little band of people I became close with in a foreign country in my early twenties and haven't seen since. These are people who shoveled my driveway, lent me money, consoled me after a breakup. They were my support system. My best friend woke up at 6 AM to drive me to the train station before my flight when I moved back to the US, which moves me to this day, knowing that our lives together in that time and place were finished and I wouldn't be around to return the favor. I might see him twice again before I die. Some others I may never see again.
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:24 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]


This is why I call my mom once a week.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:24 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, I get to spend every moment of the rest of my life, with me. I try to make that worthwhile by mindfulness, and spending time as I may, with those I love. Believe me, it is minimal.
posted by Oyéah at 12:26 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]


Sometimes I call my mom twice a day, grumpybear.
posted by Automocar at 12:28 PM on December 6 [13 favorites]


The quality-over-quantity principle applies, too. My mom and I usually have about 24-36 good hours in a visit before the fighting begins. So any additional days beyond the one is actually damaging our relationship.

And of the days we spent together when I was a teenager: how many of those were good days, or enjoyable for either of us? Not very many!
posted by witchen at 12:30 PM on December 6 [22 favorites]


A Christmas ad from a few years ago that made me all weepy: Polish Man Learns English.
posted by zardoz at 12:36 PM on December 6 [21 favorites]


>> This is why I call my mom once a week.

> Sometimes I call my mom twice a day, grumpybear.


what if on the whole it is a very good thing that I've already served the vast majority of the time I'll have to serve with my shitheel parents? what then?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:42 PM on December 6 [15 favorites]


Replace "mom" with "person you love dearly and with whom you have a healthy relationship" for the desired impact, if necessary.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:46 PM on December 6 [12 favorites]


political and economic systems are a big part of why people don't get to spend as much time as they'd like with people they love

I firmly believe this is the case, I also firmly believe we need to be demanding otherwise harder.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:50 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.

I'm keenly aware of this - I live in Canada, my mum in the UK, so my visits aren't even this frequent, and my mum has disabilities that are likely to shorten her life expectancy.

I know this. I'm 40. AND YET I can't spend more than a couple of days with my parents without some grumpy teen crankiness rearing its head.

So frustrating! Why can't I just appreciate a thing!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:54 PM on December 6 [18 favorites]


This is why I have a dog.
posted by dobbs at 12:55 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


this is definitely emotionally manipulative and made me tear up but really it's leaving out a lot of factors. the anti-technology bit is kind of confounding when you think about it, because all if not most of the pairs shown probably talk to each other through their phones all the time. there's still a quality of "spending time" with someone through technology, especially if you live far apart.

my best friend just moved an hour away, and i don't get to see her every week like i used to, but we still talk every day through messaging. it's disingenuous for me to say that i never get to talk to her. spending time in person is always valuable but your technology helps you stay in touch until those times.
posted by numaner at 1:00 PM on December 6 [8 favorites]


This is why I have a dog.

Ugh. I do this ALL the time with my cat. If I go on this vacation, I’m leaving my cat alone for 2 more weeks this year. That makes 5 weeks total this year I’ve left her alone. That’s 10% of this year. She may only have a few years left. Will I regret this missed time?

I usually end up thinking things like “(potential vacation spot) will still be there later” and not going.

Also, yes the tech thing is stupid. For years I’ve lived 3,000 miles away from my parents and talked to them on the phone on average twice a month. Now, with Marco Polo, we “see” each other at least twice a week. (Any more than that and we’d hate each other. There is a point of diminishing returns on these things.)
posted by greermahoney at 1:06 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I didn’t really become friends with my parents until I moved out when I was 21. The fact that I now have only 5% of time to hang out with them as an actual adult is depressing.
posted by gucci mane at 1:07 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


gucci mane, quality over quantity!
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:09 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


The ad was shot at the Building Techniques Institute, a 1950s building.

On the same theme, to cheer us up, Borges' poem "Limites":

Si para todo hay término y hay tasa
y última vez y nunca más y olvido
¿Quién nos dirá de quién, en esta casa,
sin saberlo, nos hemos despedido?


If all things have a limit and a value
A last time nothing more and oblivion
Who can say to whom in this house
Unknowingly, we have said goodbye?

posted by haemanu at 1:26 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]


Jesus, zardoz, that's the most I'll cry today about an ad with an old man in a bathtub promising to kill a rubber ducky.

Anyway, not a Christmas ad, but one that will always just slay me.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:41 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


¿Quién nos dirá de quién, en esta casa,
sin saberlo, nos hemos despedido?


This type of reasoning has let to some OCD thoughts on my part since I had a baby. I ask myself, when will be the last time I carry her? the last time I nurse her? the last time I bathe her?

Then I realized this applied to everything I value. When is the last time I will hold my husband's hand? The last time my sister and I share an inside joke? It can be extremely anxiety-producing.
posted by Tarumba at 1:58 PM on December 6 [12 favorites]


the anti-technology bit is kind of confounding when you think about it, because all if not most of the pairs shown probably talk to each other through their phones all the time. there's still a quality of "spending time" with someone through technology, especially if you live far apart.

Came in to make exactly this point. A huge amount of the time I spend on technology is communicating with people I care about. The anti-tech slant of the ad is really weird because phones, social media etc. allow these people to stay in much closer contact than similar relationships would have had in the past.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:14 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


> It can be extremely anxiety-producing.

That can be in the way that one holds the knowledge. I recall my dog getting on in age and it helped me be more present with each walk knowing that it was one of the last. I built an sensory/emotional time machine for those moments, taking in the morning air, the way the light rested on the treetops, the slow stepping to keep pace with her.

I use that time machine often.
posted by CheapB at 2:16 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]


One of my closest friends lives in Canada and has two dogs, true buddies of mine upon whom I dote. I go visit her twice a year, about four days each time. Now that the dogs are getting older, I haven't been able to stop calculating the likely number of days I have left to spend with them. Fair to say that it kills me a bit inside every time.
posted by praemunire at 2:17 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


...but I get to talk to that friend (and see pictures of the boys) every day using technology not available in 1950, and she's at least as important to me. So, yes, the anti-technology spin is a little strange.
posted by praemunire at 2:18 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Tarumba, I see what you mean. I get a mini version of that every time a long trip comes around and I start counting the days left until departure.

Here's the full poem translated to English, it can be unnerving, but it can also be a good motivation to enjoy the present!
posted by haemanu at 2:44 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Excerpt from The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles:

"When I was young” … “Before I was twenty, I mean, I used to think that life was a thing that kept gaining impetus, it would get richer and deeper each year. You kept learning more, getting wiser, having more insight, going further into the truth” – she hesitated.

Port laughed abruptly. – “And now you know it’s not like that. Right? It’s more like smoking a cigarette. The first few puffs it tasted wonderful, and you don’t even think of its ever being used up. Then you begin taking it for granted. Suddenly you realize it’s nearly burned down to the end. And then’s when you’re conscious of the bitter taste."
posted by otherchaz at 3:26 PM on December 6 [17 favorites]


" I used to think that life was a thing that kept gaining impetus, it would get richer and deeper each year. You kept learning more, getting wiser, having more insight, going further into the truth”

This is, in fact, true. Life gets incredible as you get older, you do get wiser, and the insight is mind boggling. You come to understand everything (as Kierkegaard said) backward. You still don't understand the future. But you see past laid out like one of those maps in LOTR, with a dotted line showing your journey. And it's all cool.

All of this is made much, much better if you've taken care of your health (important), exercise, and stopped drinking.
posted by Modest House at 3:49 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


The silver lining of having lived with my parents these last three or four years is that I've really gotten to know them and spend time with them as an adult. I've had a lot of good conversations with my mom. I've gone on a bunch of hikes with my dad. We've developed shared interests together, eaten many many meals together. I've gotten a lot of wisdom and advice from them, and they've even asked for mine a few times.

It's been good. I don't regret it. I'll miss them a lot when I move out, but I'll always be glad to have had these years with them.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:12 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


And heck, maybe someday they'll move back in with me. I have a pact with my mom that she'll never end up in a nursing home, that come what may she'll always have a place in my house. The house I'm about to move into has a bedroom on the first floor, just in case.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:14 PM on December 6


I cried. Then I wanted to drink. Apparently you can't get RuaVieja in the states...
posted by SyraCarol at 4:30 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Then I realized this applied to everything I value. When is the last time I will hold my husband's hand? The last time my sister and I share an inside joke? It can be extremely anxiety-producing.

I think that fear of losing things at all--that there will be a last time that one holds your spouse's hand, or walk with your dog, or any of it, all of it--definitely impedes the real helpfulness of this kind of awareness, which is that because there will be a last time for this thing I treasure, I should try my best to be fully present for every time, starting now.

That's hard to do, even though it's the basic awareness and fear that we all need to cope with at some point (and avoidance of which drives more screen time, or any other opiate that may soothe). I highly recommend this video and this book (originally a lecture by Watts, listen here). For me, I need to develop and hone the skill of considering my mortal, limited-time-engagement self without it freaking me out, so that I can maintain a healthy context and perspective for my life; avoidance just costs too much, I don't want it to end like this.

My dogs are the best daily reminder for me. If I stare at a screen too long, they start staring at me, like, 'are you OK? Are you going to do anything today?'
posted by LooseFilter at 5:22 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


My parents moved farther away after I had a baby. I think about this a lot.
posted by eirias at 5:23 PM on December 6


Moving, thought-provoking. Yet I choke a little on the fact that this was made to promote an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol companies have a long history of promoting their product with images of friendship, romance, and above all, human connection. But counter to that, the effects they actually produce, especially over a lifetime, are depressive, isolating, and alienating. Not every drink every time, but that's the overall trend. Presenting their product as if it helps with the former is peddling an illusion; alcohol actually tends to create the opposite of the capability to sustain deep, meaningful, authentic, long-term relationships with other people this ad is celebrating.
posted by Miko at 6:17 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


Modest House: "This is, in fact, true. Life gets incredible as you get older, you do get wiser, and the insight is mind boggling. You come to understand everything (as Kierkegaard said) backward. You still don't understand the future. But you see past laid out like one of those maps in LOTR, with a dotted line showing your journey. And it's all cool."
Half of my life is gone, and I have let 
   The years slip from me and have not fulfilled 
   The aspiration of my youth, to build 
   Some tower of song with lofty parapet. 
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret 
   Of restless passions that would not be stilled, 
   But sorrow, and a care that almost killed, 
   Kept me from what I may accomplish yet; 
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past 
   Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,— 
   A city in the twilight dim and vast, 
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,— 
   And hear above me on the autumnal blast 
   The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.
"Mezzo Cammin"
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
posted by Rhaomi at 6:30 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


Without spending hours trawling the internet, I would never have seen this video. QED.
posted by storybored at 10:08 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


> storybored:
"Without spending hours trawling the internet,"

That's why I use a filter.
posted by chavenet at 3:21 AM on December 7


I don't like it. I find it mawkish and manipulative and somewhat stupid. Put metrics to anything, (how many days on the toilet?) and the results are startling. Why can't they just celebrate the boozy bonhomie that having a drink with friends, near friends, and acquaintances can engender?

As for the argument/blame over "tech." I think it works both ways, to alienate and connect, but being old I cannot stand how manners have changed and it seems like it is perfectly normal to groom your glowing touch box at all times in all situations.
posted by Pembquist at 9:05 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


Has anyone gotten past the "what is your relationship to. . . " question on the calculator?

There are a lot of horribly broken websites, but three browsers in with the same bug and no apparent way to enter data or move to the next page, I give up. The internet will just have to live without my snarky comments on having completed the thing.
posted by eotvos at 9:43 AM on December 7


Ahh - figured it out. (With my fonts and settings) it requires a browser wider than ~1400 pixels. The next question only works if you have a browser taller than 1200 pixels.

Finally having completed thing thing, it claims I will spend 4 more hours of my life talking to my father. That sounds pretty reasonable. Maybe a little longer than I'd pick myself, but it's the holidays, so let's be generous.
posted by eotvos at 9:51 AM on December 7


A Christmas ad from a few years ago that made me all weepy: Polish Man Learns English.

zardoz, I loved every second of that.
posted by bendy at 10:38 PM on December 7


(how many days on the toilet?)

hey i spend many of those days also conversing with people (who are none the wiser) so it's still quality time
posted by numaner at 11:24 PM on December 9


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