THE IDEA OF BEING ‘PRODUCTIVE’

I would like to address how the idea of being productive has changed during the pandemic for me. The pandemic has provided me with an “excess” amount of free time. This excess time is coming out of the time I used to spend travelling to college or just usual time spent outside house. But, for the past how many ever lockdown months, I have been constantly carrying this guilt of not using my free time in a productive way. Before COVID-19 hit us, I used to go to college early in the morning and return home late in the evening. Although it might sound like a mundane routine, the time I spent in college and outside with my friends, working on projects, discussing things or even just lazing around used to somehow fill up my satisfaction of doing something if not just work. Now that I sit at home and do nothing in my free time, I end up feeling guilty.

The guilt that I mentioned comes from various places and is problematic in many ways, so to address that guilt, I would first like to ask What is “being productive”? Where did this word come from? and How and why do we look at it the way we do? The dictionary meaning of “Productive” is producing or able to produce large amounts of commodities. This idea of producing things reminds me of the discussions we had in college about the factories which emerged during the Industrial Revolution and the way the lives of the people working in these factories functioned around the capitalist logic of production. We in this modern world have fallen prey to this logic and we have segregated our lives in various compartments. We have separated our work from leisure. Watching movies, listening to music seem like things which “waste” our time in a way. De Certeau explains this by using the concept of Le Perruque. That is, the productivist logic of the spatial separation between office, workshop or theatre could be challenged through “transverse tactics”. But the pandemic has forced us to push these boundaries of modernity.

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