F*ck You Time
F*ck You Money's partner in crime
A few weeks ago, my friend Jack Raines published a piece called F*ck You Money in which he proposes that yes, you can have too much money.
I don’t know what it’s like to have too much money, but I do know what it’s like to have too much free time.
I left University of Michigan in the middle of sophomore year due to depression, and took a semester to chill at home and get my head on straight.
This mostly consisted of me trying random businesses like reselling clothing and selling album artwork to fledgling musicians.
With infinite free time, I fell down a depression wormhole.
Fast-forward to 2022.
I’m 24 and still have a lot of free time, but now I spend it working on side projects like Cyber Patterns, hanging with my girlfriend, and screwing around with friends.
“A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
This leads me to a similar conclusion as Jack. Like too much money can make you a prisoner to your wealth, too much free time can make you a prisoner to time itself.
The man working 16-hour days 6 days a week is not happy.
But, neither is the man with infinite free time.
In a 1930 speech by economist John Maynard Keynes, he predicted that within a century, no one would have to work more than 15 hours per week thanks to the advance of technology.
“The challenge would be how to fill all our newfound leisure time without going crazy. ‘For the first time since his creation,’ Keynes told his audience, ‘man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares.’”
Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks
That semester in 2017, I was miserable despite having all the time in the world.
Now, I work 10-14 hour days in a shit New Jersey town and spend most of my days glued to a laptop yet I’m quite content with life.
This leads me to the following extrapolations of Jack’s graphs:
What People Think F*ck You Time Is:
People think that retiring at 30 and spending the rest of your life hopping from beach to beach sounds glorious. I think that sounds awful and meaningless.
There was a time when I would’ve killed for that. In fact, after that cold winter in 2017, I flew overseas for 3 months stopping in Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands.
I lived with a community of college-aged kids in Jerusalem and spent my time hiking, longboarding, and occasionally working at a yoga studio.
I had all the time in the world, but no purpose outside of being happy and finding myself - whatever the hell that means.
My Mom sent me an article written by a rabbi a few years ago. I wish I could find it, but I swear the thesis changed my life. It went something like:
If you want to be happy, settle down and plant your roots. Instead of traveling the globe, settle for where you are - and build a community.
In order to settle down, you need to settle for somewhere. Nowhere is perfect, and if you keep searching for the perfect place, you’ll never find it. Much like chasing the perfect woman or job, you’ll end up chasing highs.
I ended up switching from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to Rutgers University in New Brunswick. In every respect, it’s a shittier1 town, but I’m much happier.
I moved into an apartment, made a bunch of friends, and now have a community here..
I work 10-14 hour days now in a fully remote job - and I’m significantly happier than when I was working 0 hours-per-day and spending my time exploring Europe.
On the average day, I hit the dog park in the morning and chat with my neighbors, hop on some meetings for work, grab coffee with a friend, and then see friends at night. It’s enough free time to feel comfortable, but I’m not overwhelmed by it.
This leads me to believe that F*ck You Time is actually somewhere in the middle of the time-freedom scale. It’s not having 1 hour-per-day for yourself, but it’s also not having 24 hours-per-day for yourself.
What F*ck You Time Actually Is:
We don’t actually want absolute time freedom. We want to have free time the same time as our friends and loved ones.
There was research done in Sweden that showed the country’s pharmacists dispensed less antidepressants during the weekends and holidays. This is obvious.
But, the cool find was antidepressant use fell by a greater degree in proportion to how much of the population of Sweden was on vacation. Essentially, the more of your friends and family were off, the less antidepressants you took.
This leads me to the plight of the digital nomad: the supposed blissful wanderer who travels around the globe with laptop in hand and passport fully stamped.
Burkeman dispels this notion that Instagram tries to sell us by explaining, “every gain in personal temporal freedom entails a corresponding loss in how easy it is to coordinate your time with other people’s.”
You remember snow days when everyone had off and you could go sledding or play Xbox online with your friends? That doesn’t work if not everyone is off.
It’s the same thing with remote work. If you can work from anywhere, you’ll go somewhere cool. If all your friends and family can work remote, everyone will go their separate ways.
To quote a tweet from Cabin founder Jon Hillis, “people want one thing and it’s living in walkable neighborhoods near friends that give them social and intellectual nourishment.”
When he was still a digital nomad, Mark Manson wrote, “Last year, I saw the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu in the span of three months … But did all this alone.”
Manson recounts a time when he saw a fellow digital nomad crying on a park bench. They spoke and the fellow nomad explained that he saw a man with a wife and kids - something he never got because he refused to settle for a place.
Diminishing Returns of F*ck You Time
A flexible work schedule liberates me to spend more time with my girlfriend, go on walks with my dog, and take 10 minutes for meditation without worrying if a boss is breathing down my neck.
I could imagine a world where I’m my own boss - whether I wrote a book that popped off or I finally have enough paid Substack members to go full-time on it.
Would I enjoy that? Potentially, but probably not.
I like working with people - feeling part of a team that is working on something bigger than myself. And as of right now, I have no interest to lead a team or manage people under me.
Right now, I’m on work-related calls 1-3 hours per day, write 4-6 hours per day, and hang IRL with friends 0-2 hours per day.
If my work-related calls disappeared, would I hang out more with IRL friends?
Probably not2 because they’re all busy working - the plight of the remote worker.
Eternal Life Thought Experiment
“If I believed that my life would last forever, then I could never take my life to be at stake, and I would never be seized by the need to do anything with my time.”
-Martin Hägglund, This Life
Would life become meaningless if you lived forever?
Perhaps the above quote is true for some people, but I think if I had eternal life, I would live quite similarly to how I’m living now.
I’d work, write, and read. Yes, I could do it tomorrow, but what am I going to do today? Get stoned and read comics? No, I would read and write as ferociously as ever.
Like Elon still builds companies with billions in the bank, I would read and write daily even if I had the rest of eternity to do it.
My grandfather wrote 10-15 books, finishing his first mystery novel at age 70 and dying at 74. On his deathbed, he said he wasn’t ready; he needed to write a sequel.
That is the DNA inside me.
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Podcast plug: This week was a good one. My guest sold $300,000 in NFTs, wrote a book called How To Wear Socks, and was a curator of Twitter’s trending moments. Here’s my convo with John Januzzi on Spotify and Apple.
Significantly more dangerous, higher rates of crime, poverty, etc.
Don’t feel bad for me. I’m moving to NYC in August: home to The Defiant’s office, my girlfriend, my tech friends, FWB, and countless co-working spots.