The Thieves

We have been obsessed about time since we invented clocks, but we seem to be more interested in losing it today.
Photo: Gualberto 107 via

There are some faceless criminals in Norway that are responsible for stealing an unimaginable amount of resources. They are commonly referred to as the time thieves. We all know about them. I tried my best to fight them as a teacher. I started a job in Telemark county in 2008 and they decided the 10th graders needed a laptop each. This was a laptop the pupils loaned, but they “owned” it for the whole year, and it stuck to them like glue.

It was useful because they could turn in homework and tests on a closed site that most of the schools use (its Learning). I tried telling my superiors that we needed some restrictions because it undermined everything I was trying to do. So did the administrator by telling me to deal with it, and he interferred when I was. Every time I turned my back to those 3-4 that usually started this, they went back to playing poker or watching you tube. This was especially bad if I was taking over from another teacher and that teacher had left the classroom early (the school had a double period before recess) . Then I basically entered a riot. I could get most of them back on track again, but I usually lost the first 5-10 minutes of my class. This was a classic time thief.

I also felt as a teacher that far too much time was wasted on meetings and documentation. Teachers are expected to do some work at home, but there is a certain amount of time teachers in Norway have to spend at work. When they are done teaching for the day, there is still lots more to be done. Then they prepare for next day, call parents, write reports, grade papers, and have a lot of meetings. I could see the point about some of the meetings (especially those with the Educational and psychological services, and specific things we needed to address), but we frequently had meetings just because we had to have weekly meetings. It didn’t matter if we had something to address or not. This is the law and the administrator (head teacher) decides how you spend your time at work. It basically meant that I, needing more time than most people, had to bring more work home. This was a major time thief both at work and at home.

Technology has given us many devices that are supposed to give us more time, but I wonder how successful it has been. Maybe we have so much time that we have to waste it to fight boredom? I thought myself that I was completely addicted to my smartphone. I used it for reading news, blogs, email, listen to music, write posts on my blog, pay bills etc. I have been without a phone for two days now. It has slowly disintegrated and finally expired during Easter. I have to admit it is very inconvenient because everything is electronic these days, and because my computer died before Christmas. You can’t even go into a bank and pay bills anymore. You have to do that online or on a phone system similar to the net bank. The banks don’t handle cash either. Everything is electronic today, which is nice as long as it works (just a little reminder of what an EMP-weapon can do).

That phone was my watch, alarm clock and lifeline to the world when I didn’t have access to a computer. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be to be without, but I am looking forward to getting my new phone. It is a major time thief, though. Even in Church where our attention should be elsewhere, people tend to look at their phone. I think the idea of silence and not doing anything for a couple of seconds is unthinkable. I noticed that as a teacher as well. It has to be entertaining.

I didn’t have any problems giving up TV. Even science and nature channels focus on crap, aka reality shows. So TV isn’t much of a time thief for me anymore. I am quite guilty about internet, though. I spend a lot of time on my computer. It’s a thief if it’s taking something away from me, if there’s something I had planned to do, but couldn’t because I was surfing the net. It’s a thief if it’s draining me more than it’s recharging. I’d be lying if I said I never wasted time. I guess it is a little problematic because I find it easier to write than to talk. Internet doesn’t encourage me to talk to people, but it feels liberating to me that I am able to write what I can’t say. Internet has also allowed me to communicate with some pretty amazing people.

So I feel that as long as I still spend time with my family it’s alright. I spend a lot of time writing, and I believe that helps me deal with some of my demons. I have reduced my internet time some, though. That has allowed me to read more and to work on a book project. We all need some balance. We can reduce the time thieves’ influence, but it’s hard to get completely rid of them at this point.

Do you have some influences you want to reduce?

P.S. Easter brought me out of the forest for a while, and I had enough energy to play dice 10 000 with my family today. I mentioned autism and intervention a few posts ago. A game like this is perfect. It requires fine motor skills, simple calculation, waiting for turn, decision making, is an early reminder that things don’t always go your way, and it’s not so difficult that the concentration makes you stop talking. It’s a very social game.


10 thoughts on “The Thieves

  1. So does this mean you’re not going to go along with the crowd and replace your appendages and senses with the x-human current version. Something like Pistorius running on leg prosthetics.

    And especially the smart prosthetics that will be connect to the global brain (aka “deep mind”). I suspect Google’s version will be called “Gog” and Microsoft’s version will be called “MaGog.” ☁–☁ (jeje!)

    And then access everyone and everything and all the vast media libraries — if you but bow down and use the authentication code “666.” …without which no one will be able to buy and sell… (ohoh!)

    You’re right to be wary.


  2. Maybe we have so much time that we have to waste it to fight boredom?

    Good point. Not too long ago, people in the US were mainly preoccupied with just getting necessary daily chores finished. Technology has certainly allowed us greater flexibility with regard to how we spend our moments.

    Craig’s job keeps him “tied” to his phone, but I’ve noticed that mine can be a distraction at times, too. I don’t recall ever going so far as to play with it while sitting in church, though…

    Do you have some influences you want to reduce?

    As we lived for about 3 years without electricity/TV/internet access (and only two kids), I have to admit that I realized years ago that the greatest time thief in my own life is “me”. The stuff expands my ability to make poor choices, but when I catch myself wasting time, it really comes back to my own failure to monitor my activities wisely and my own tendency to procrastinate when I don’t want to do something less fun.

    Before we had internet access, my way of wasting a day was to become buried in a book or by doodling pictures or just daydreaming. It’s not that those are inherently evil pastimes either, but that need for balance that you mentioned is a critical aspect of being accountable and making the best use of the life we’ve been given.

    These days, I’m more likely to get distracted by internet use because I’m home all day with a computer and sometimes it’s really easy to sit down for a quick break from daily activities…and then forget that it was meant to be a quick break.

    I guess one bad influence I’ve realized I need to eliminate is my inclination toward time mismanagement. :/

    Some days go much more smoothly than others.

    I really appreciate your mention of the need for balance, btw. I think this is a much more appropriate approach to life than simply labeling all potentially unhelpful activities as “bad” and then devoting all our time to avoiding them.

  3. Easter brought me out of the forest for a while, and I had enough energy to play dice 10 000 with my family today.

    That’s wonderful! 🙂

    We have a daily five-hour internet free block of time set aside for this sort of thing, as we all need some level of intervention and a way to practice building family relationships and social skills.

  4. John,

    I am thankful I never had to deal with my students having access to laptops all the time as yours did. That sounds nightmarish. Providing students with laptops, IPADS, or similar devices on a constant basis is one of those things that sounds so good in theory, but in practice is disastrous. This must be even more so with the younger students you were teaching.

    I hear you on the “wasted time” in education. I HATED faculty meetings. Fortunately, for most of my career I was not subjected to meetings for the sake of having meetings, and most of the colleagues I worked with were not so inclined to whine, complain, and list all the possible reasons why they couldn’t possibly do an assigned task (although I did work at 2 other schools for shorter periods in which this was the unfortunate norm).

    I agree with you on the paperwork. I hear from my teacher friends that it has only gotten worse here with regards to documentation since the implementation of Common Core.

    As far as “time thieves” that I want to reduce, well, Heather pretty much summed it up. Her “problem” is basically my own. Back in early 2013 I eliminated cable T.V. and as a result, the television is rarely on in my house. After that, I started getting my news and weather online, so I had this perfect “excuse” to be online; that’s when my online activity escalated. But I don’t regret ditching the cable. I just need to be more disciplined about how I use my time.

    Unlike you, John, I do not have a Smartphone, so I don’t have that particular time thief. I never expect to have one, so hopefully I will be spared that obsession. I use my phone to call people, and ever so rarely, send a text. I don’t have social media accounts, so I don’t eat my time of with that.

    My other “time thief” is the one Heather mentioned: books! Oh, how I love to read. I think, I’ll just finish this chapter, and then I’ll go do such and such……and then four chapters later, I am still reading.

    But as Heather, said about her biggest time thief being herself, I agree that is the case with me, too.

  5. John 10:10 [Y’shua said,] The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

  6. I like categorizing. So when there’s an obvious link to an item normally found in an array, then I’m reminder of the larger aspect.

    Ten Commandments (“don’ts”)
    1 No other gods, no idols
    2 not to disrespect name of God
    (… keep sabbaths, honor parents)
    3 no killing
    4 no greed (coveting)
    5 no adultery
    6 no theft
    7 no false witness

    John 10:10
    3 kill
    5 destroy
    6 thief, steal

    Revelation (tares matured)
    1 the beast
    2 the false prophet
    3 death (and hell) <— kill
    4 babylon
    5 the destroyer <— destroy
    6 ten horns <— steal
    7 the dragon

    As opposed to the 7 Spirits of God

    ps. terrorists are destroyers

  7. Luke 11:24-26

    When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man…
    – he walketh through dry places seeking rest
    – and finding none he saith, I will return
    – unto my house whence I came out

    And when he cometh he findeth it swept and garnished…
    – Then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits
    – more wicked than himself and they enter in
    – and dwell there and the last state of that man
    – is worse than the first

    ps. cp. Prov. 6:16

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