Where did that monumental slab of new work time come from? Has leisure given way?
Not television watching. Not time on the StairMaster. Not time spent driving. Not time spent figuring out how to program the VCR (or watching it; video didn't exist--remember?). Not time spent playing computer games--in 1998, the average personal-computer user put in an estimated 10.3 hours a month at a single game, Civilization II; then there is Myst or Riven or Doom or Quake (anyone who has experienced these time sinks, nonexistent in 1970, knows that they can make hours flash by, gripping the mind with an addiction more powerful than any strain of workaholism). Not time at the National Parks--although the average hours spent per visitor has indeed dropped slightly over the last generation, and tourists do seem to race along those trails, many more consumers of nature have been able to travel to the parks, a twelve-fold increase over four decades; they fill well over a billion hours a year. Not time spent gambling-a third of American households now visit a casino each year, and they invest more than money: each trip means, on average, eighteen hours per person at the slots or the tables. If leisure means free time--truly free; free of Myst and Quake, free of hiking and reading and listening to music--then perhaps we have lost our dream of leisure. We do have time, free or not, that we like to fill with recreation.