A Good Use of Time (Maybe)

September 27, 2009 on 5:06 pm by Michael Grey | In Stories, Tips, Whinges | 4 Comments

I was watching the local news last week and a segment popped up that talked about the release of new internet stats. I can’t find the link to the piece otherwise I’d happily provide it here. Anyway, the story centred on the internet: now preferred over TV for entertainment and info-gathering.

And surprise: Facebook, by a country mile, is now the most popular social networking site.

Facebook, MySpace and all the other online “time-wasters”, surely take up more and more of our prime living, breathing, thinking time. I use the internet a lot. It’s an important tool for my work, my job. I probably use it more on-the-job than off. I’m fairly sure I’m near the top of my demographics’ internet usage stats.

No matter how we spend our time, especially our “free”, non-work, non-family time, we know that it’s finite – there’s only so much of the stuff to go around. I wonder if the internet, while a fantastic medium to connect people, may be having a negative impact on the quality of other “free time” pursuits; think pipes, drums.

Really, think about it: if someone is frantically clicking away on Facebook, regaling their friends with weather updates, their moods and the pork chop in the pan for supper, then you’d have to think that for the average user, more Facebook — for example — means less attention to other things, like music-making – and thinking about music-making. From my experience, when it comes to creating music it is the thinking part that is more important than the making part.

Just a thought.

A little book I’ve always enjoyed is Angus Macpherson’s autobiography, “A Highlander Looks Back”. In a cultural context, a bagpipe context, he writes of another time and place: the nineteenth century Scottish Highlands. I wonder if his time was more conducive to great music-making than ours:

“As a very willing pupil by the peat fire at Badenoch, I was initiated into the mysteries of piobaireachd, my tutor being my father, a product of the MacCrimmon school of Skye. In this modest school of learning, I have seen men who after a hard day’s work, walk ten or twenty miles for their ceol mor lessons, no matter what the weather, and in the small hours of the morning, after Highland hospitality and the environment of the good old-fashioned ceilidh, they would tread their homeward way with their minds steeped in that which conveys to the Highlander something which nothing else can.”

Not so much time in those days for Facebooking, “Mike is happy that the grass is cut”.



  1. I think this trend started with the invention of wire-less radio. To meet that Airtight seasoning was invented and easing things a bit off.

    With Facebook and media’s in general we now have synthetic drone reeds, synthetic bags, moisture control tubing, electronic tuners to help us against time consumers/wasters.

    The situation for the individual has changed but the better instruments to day make up for it. Another improvement is that you don´t have to memorize your tune walking through 10 miles of pissing rain (To Long in This Condition springs to mind) but can access you tutor via the Internet.

    Comment by Stig Bang-Mortensen — September 29, 2009 #

  2. You definitely were born a century late. I wonder if the popularity of GS, Ross, MacCrimmons, Lawrie, Campbell, MacLeod . . . compositions was in part due to the limited availibility of music. Great compositions, of course, and deservedly played, but today I wonder if GS would be just another composer churning out stuff for his band, with some great tunes actually not getting much pick-up. We’re not only spread thin by time, but by choice, and too often we choose to answer the call of insipid time-wasting stuff that diverts attention from what’s important.

    Comment by aberthoff — September 29, 2009 #

  3. Stig – good points all! I am SO thankful, for example, to have synthetic drone reeds! I was thinking, though, as much as the time-wasting part of some of what the internet offers, I think of the quality of how we spend our time now versus then.
    Andrew – interesting thought. I wonder, too. I wonder if some of those tunes dubbed great in the repertoire, while fundamentally sound compositions (of course) are loved because they’re so familiar and continue to survive so well because they’re passed along because of that familiarity? Very interesting thought -thanks!

    Comment by mike — September 30, 2009 #

  4. Of course it’s different. When I look at my kids I’m amazed by what they know of, that I didn’t have the slightest idea of when I was their age.

    Saying that I think there is a limit to how deep you can understand fx. piobaireachd. The knowledge wasn’t necessarily deeper yesterday they just had fewer things to worry about and hence not using the same brain bandwith as we do to day. Danish author Tor Norretranders has written a book on the subject Human Brain Bandwidth unfortunately not in English.

    Comment by Stig Bang-Mortensen — October 2, 2009 #

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