The privatization of free time

Harvard professor Robert Putnam has researched how communities are changing. One of the significant shifts is something he refers to as the privatization of free time.

In previous decades, people would generally come home from work or school and spend their free time with other people as a part of their wider community.

For example, they’d gather at baseball parks or arenas together, or participate in community organizations or events together.

But something happened. With the advent of television, more and more people started coming home from work or school, going inside, closing the doors, and watching TV.


I’m not saying all TV is bad. Although I don’t watch a tonne of it, I generally enjoy it when I do. What concerns me is how exclusive devotion to screens can, if we’re not careful, undermine community and our capacity to connect and show compassion to those around us.

In 1 Corinthians 10:24 Paul wrote, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour.” And that’s very hard to do if we never interact with people or know what challenges they may be facing in life.

So when an opportunity arises take some time to get to know those around you.

The privatization of free time may be a powerful force in modern life, but so is the power of community in the heart of Christ’s people who have been transformed by his outgoing love.

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour.

By Matthew Ruttan


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