You’ve heard somebody say it. Probably recently. You always know when it’s coming. You know the situations where it inevitably turns up, a reaction to something impressive the creation of which upsets somebody less productive.
When someone builds a hundred snowmen for the hell of it, somebody’s probably going to say it.
On every video of a kick-ass Rube Goldberg Machine, somebody’s probably going to say it.
When a Minecraft gamer builds a scale model of the city of Midgar from Final Fantasy VII, somebody’s definitely going to say it.
While the rest of us are shouting “Awesome!” at our monitors and calling friends or relatives over to geek out with us, there’s always that one bitter prick who has to drag out that tired, old criticism.
He’s going to say: “Wow. Someone’s got too much time on his hands.”
It’s the go-to heckle to throw at any creative person who builds an amazing and more-or-less useless thing, something that serves no practical purpose but makes a lot of us laugh like idiots, or feel inspired to make the thing we’re passionate about. These people who create these absurd and remarkable things, they’re freaks. And I say that with pure affection because I love freaks.
When people need to unwind, some produce and some consume. Some want to put a couple more hours into that ten-minute, automatically-functioning, musical Super Mario World level they’ve been working on for the last six months, and others want to spend four hours watching videos like it on YouTube.
That’s fine. Most who create do their share of consumption, and probably most who consume are producing something now and then. But the producers, who get passionate about things and make them happen, are the ones who make consumption fun. And that cliché, that fuck-your-passion cliché, will pop out as inevitably as a SWAT officer’s tear-gas to spray in the face of a freak anytime some heckler finds himself outraged at the uselessness of the incredible new thing he’s just witnessed. And I’d like to wonder what that heckler has ever done with his time that’s so practical and helpful to the world, but it’s hard to believe he’s done much of anything at all.
“I would though. If I wasn’t pissing my time away on a job I hate and spending my nights browsing the web for things to criticize as a means to numb the pain of my soul-deadening existence, I’d be making something that would serve the world way more than that thing you made.”
It’s anger masking jealousy, criticism as a shield for inadequacy, a self-deluding reaction to the sinking feeling that six months ago you said this was the year you’d finally learn to play the piano and if you’d stuck with it maybe you’d know a few songs by now. But no, you got busy. There was other stuff on your mind. Someone who spent countless hours building something cool out of bottle caps clearly wasn’t busy and had nothing else on his mind.
This is what I hear when I hear it: “You’re really talented and driven to create things that don’t interest me. You should channel that drive and talent into my interests instead.”
Well fuck you, buddy. If you want something to exist, you go create it. That’s what all these other guys did. Not because it was practical, not because it had real-world applications. Because it was fun and they thought it would be cool.
It would be easy to say that the only people who have “too much time on their hands” are the people who are spending their spare time discouraging other people from following their passions in their spare time. But that’s just the old “He who smelt it dealt it,” so here’s something else:
You have enough time on your hands. If you care enough to create something, you’ll find where that time needs to come from. Please stop worrying about what strangers do with their time and go put your passion into your stupid thing and show it to me when it’s done. I love stupid things with passion in them.