Picture from Lecture Flyer (Source: WSU Website)
Alexis McCrossen will present on what it means to waste time and how the concept of wasting time has influenced expectations of productivity at 1:30 on Oct. 21 in the Stewart Library. (Photo provided by Weber State University)

Alexis McCrossen, professor of history at Southern Methodist University, is coming to Weber State to discuss something well all value–time.

Her lecture, “Wasting Time: History & Image of Time in America” takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Hetzel-Hoellein room of the Stewart Library. The lecture is part of the Engaged Learning Series.

“Historian Alexis McCrossen has studied the American concept of ‘wasting time’ and will share her research about when we, as a culture, started thinking of time in this way and how the notion of wasting time has influenced our cultural expectations of productivity,” Becky Jo Gesteland, Engaged Learning Series chair, said.

According to Gesteland, the idea of wasting time comes from a feeling of guilt people experience when they feel they are not doing enough.

“Americans often feel pressed for time,” Gesteland said. “If we take a break, to watch Netflix, to check Facebook, or even to take a nap, we often feel guilty because we are wasting time.”

Susan Matt, chair and professor of history at WSU, believes the lecture will appeal to a broad audience.

“I think the lecture should be of interest to students, faculty, and community members, because it will address something we all do and worry about doing–wasting time,” Matt said.

According to McCrossen, her previous works have influenced this lecture in a big way.

“My second book, ‘Marking Modern Times: Clocks, Watches and Other Timekeepers in American Life,’ looked at how Americans came to live by the clock,” McCrossen said. “It was not so much about conflict over time as about the successful effort to bring everyone under the regime of the clock.”

History is used in McCrossen’s lecture to provide a comprehensive perspective about the topic.

“The lecture looks closely at the 1930s, a decade during in which, it could be argued, a lot of Americans wasted time,” McCrossen said. “The unemployment and underemployment that resulted from The Great Depression resulted in many Americans finding themselves at loose ends.”

McCrossen also plans to bring her lecture from the past into the present day.

“Today we all waste time, at least by the standards of our predecessors,” McCrossen said. “In fact we are able to waste time safely since the right use of time is no longer a matter of life and death, as it once was when a farmer who failed to heed the call to plant or harvest risked starvation.”

According to McCrossen, even students can waste time.

“Of course students who waste time risk failing their classes, which might lead to severe and serious consequences for their well-being over time, but the imminent sense of danger is not as intense as it once was,” McCrossen said.

McCrossen believes that technology has also changed how people use their time.

“What is more, we have developed tremendous tools that help us achieve so much efficiency that when we productively use our time, we often have some left over to waste,” McCrossen said. “That is, a student who has good study habits can usually find an hour or two a day to Snapchat, game or nap.”

McCrossen is not only looking forward to giving this lecture, but also to visit Weber State University and the state of Utah.

Whether or not McCrossen’s audience enjoys the presentation is her highest priority.

“I hope it won’t be a waste of anyone’s time,” McCrossen said.

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