Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Too Much Time on Their Hands"

You've heard this phrase before, or maybe even used it yourself, to refer to a project that is seemingly useless and time-consuming. I hate this phrase.

One of my hobbies is cross-stitching. It is an impractical thing to do. I spend hours and hours fiddling with a little needle and tangly thread to make images out of little colored Xs. What a waste of time, right?

You could say the same thing of any work of fiction every written (though satires might get a pass for being not-really-fiction-because-they're-actually-ABOUT-real-things-but-only-in-a-roundabout-way), every work of art ever created... if you take away the "useless" and "impractical" things that were only created because "someone had too much time on their hands," you have a really boring world that belongs in some sort of horrible dystopia in one of those novels that would no longer exist.

So yes, a lot of weird, silly, impractical things exist in the world. Sometimes people spend hours, days, weeks, years, decades creating these things. And while you may not see their value, there is someone who does, even if it's sometimes only the person who created it.

What does this have to do with this week? Well, the same kind of people who would use that phrase would probably think that Randall Munroe "thought too hard" about these hypothetical questions. But even if there were no practical value to his thought processes and answers (but there totally is, because I learned a lot from this book) it's entertaining. He enjoys writing it, I enjoy reading it... there's at least two people in the world who got something out of it. And I say that's enough of a reason to do anything.

Even making little Xs in fabric for hours and hours.

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