We're a society that explores things — that tries things out. Some things cost a lot, some things are cheap, and some things seem to be free.
Tucked into many of the things we use and buy are transaction costs — hidden costs that are added on. Whether it's putting gas in the car (which results in taxes and pollution) or using a credit card (higher prices and interest fees), there are extra costs to our choices. Even surfing the Internet has costs, though most of them are hidden — tracking-cookies let corporations remember our choices, credit cards are stolen, and we can know more about a famous person than our neighbor. These costs might not stop us from doing these things, but they're part of the process.
The phrase "Nickel and diming" has its roots in the small coins we use. If you are being nickel and dimed then someone is continually charging you small amounts, and hoping those small charges don't scare you off. The trick is to keep you distracted enough, and interested enough, that you keep on paying rather than deciding to do something else.
The biggest new use of people's time revolves around screens of all types: TVs, computers, Playstations and phones. Entertainment is a focal point of many people's lives, and our screens are ways to both relax and stay informed. Certainly no previous generation can claim the widespread access to information and entertainment that we do.
But the downside of endless entertainment and information is that we are staying still — and this has unfortunate downsides for both our society, and for us personally.
The time we spend in front of our screens may be great for snack food companies, Hollywood and a quick laugh, but it's time lost from important pursuits, including relationships, health, and personal projects.
Long before there were Lady Gaga videos, friends have been sharing time, and their lives. While no family is perfect, and no friendship is easy, spending time in community and helping others are at the core of fulfilled lives. Sure, it can be fun to see what the stars are wearing, but real relationships and real smiles are what help us grow and bring us joy. If you're looking at a screen instead of the person next to you then from their perspective you're not really with them — you're just in the same room. Younger people tend to be more used to this, but that doesn't make it good. There are lots of things that people get used to that aren't good for us.
Lately we're hearing about the wave of Diabetes that is hitting both our society and people we know. Human bodies are amazing — able to withstand physical trauma and to heal from injuries. What our bodies aren't used to is endless sitting around and eating. We need our vertical time to feel good and to be healthy!
We also nickel and dime our time is by missing opportunities to grow and develop. It doesn't matter how many music videos we watch — *they* will not make us musicians or dancers or artists — only *we* can do that.
It's been said that our society has the greatest potential of any before it — with access to deep resources and many opportunities — but that virtually all of our creative and personal time is left unused.
There is great value in every life, and most definitely in your life. There are marvellous things you can learn, places you can visit, and people you can get to know. You can get fit, and feel the spring in your step. You can rediscover the wonder of nature and the joy of helping someone.
Let's see what is really in front of our eyes — it's not just a screen — but the steady erosion of our time, our potential and our future. Let's stop nickel and diming our lives.
We've watched things. Now, let's do things!