Poor Mr. Franklin, born so early.
More than any other Founding Father, he would have savored life in 21st-century America. He would have enjoyed hosting his own Web site and Facebook account.
He’d post videos of his scientific experiments on YouTube and would ‘tweet’ new aphorisms onto his “Poor Richard Twitter” account. (“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle. LOL!”)
But would he find that the wireless world and all its fascinating possibilities consumed too much of his day. Currently, adult Americans—who generally assert they have no free time—spend almost one hour a day online (and one source claims that teens spend 72 hours a week using electronic media, or about 10 hours a day!)
Traditionally, Americans have not chosen between activities. Instead we have made extra time in the day by working harder, moving faster, and generally speeding up the rhythm of life.
The Huffington Post (no relation to The Saturday Evening Post) recently started a book club and chose In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré for its first title. The book encourages readers to choose the pace of our lives and balance the speed in so many of their activities with slower, more thoughtful tempos.
In his day, Ben Franklin constantly encouraged his readers to use time wisely:
“Lost time is never found again.”
“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
“Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
This last line reflects Franklin’s belief in productivity over activity. We think he would have approved of the idea of slowing life to a deliberate pace, so we don’t squander time with idleness or mindless haste.
As he urged his readers:
“Never confuse motion with action … Leisure is the time for doing something useful. This leisure the diligent person will obtain, the lazy one never.”