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How do green activists waste their time?


A quarter century ago I interviewed a remarkably productive local green activist. How did he find the time to do it all? “I don’t watch television,” he tersely replied.

I was recently reminded of that conversation by a posting on the Envirotalk listserv. A commentator forwarded a blog post by Milena Rangelov, a doctoral student in engineering. You’ll want to read her whole essay (go here), but to give you a taste of it, what follows are three time wasters. Some are less obvious than others:

  • Consistent email checking — “It is crucial to have scheduled large blocks of time without email.”
  • Worrying — “I wasted years on worrying and ironically, most of the things I worried about have never happened.”
  • Breaks spent in a draining way — “Don’t try to be productive, don’t multitask, let your brain rest.”

Working-age green activists tend to be exceptionally busy. How else can you stay on top of your activist work while also holding down a job and tending to the rest of your life? Yet the crush of competing demands tends to cultivate a frenetic — and often highly caffeinated — lifestyle of perpetual multitasking. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that in a heroic effort to save the planet, we all too often find it difficult to find the time to enjoy the quietude of the natural world.

This may be particularly challenging as we enter the Trumpocene Age, which raises the specter of a wide range of threats to the environment, the social safety net and basic human decency.

Indeed, activism can become just another kind of addiction, where people lose touch with their deeper selves. What’s the difference between spending too much time on Envirotalk versus scrolling a social media feed?

This is one reason why I appreciate David Abram’s book, Becoming Animal. He offers a rich meditation on how to go beyond thinking about the environment to actually feeling in a deep way your role in the natural order (go here for our mini-review).

abram-animal-thumbALL OUR SOURCES:

This post was originally published Nov. 6, 2016. Photo by Olympia, Earth Images.


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