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“Edward Forty-Hands” is played thusly: The participant’s buddies duct tape a pair of cheap malt liquors to his hands. Said participant cannot, until the combined 80 oz. are imbibed, remove the bottles. This simple rule set causes untold difficulties – mostly bathroom-related – for the player, just like those experienced by Tim Burton’s tragic hero. This is just one of the many amusements Isla Vistans either observe or participate in on a semi-regular basis.
When not finding hilarious ways to consume alcohol, however, the neighborhood’s collegians are, like everyone else, relegated by the routines of daily life: We sleep, eat, study and engage in trade. That last bit is a problem for many of us, as a lifestyle of slumber and keg stands doesn’t leave much of a window in which to earn money that might be exchanged for goods and services.
For many, money is a psychodrama-ridden topic. Some of us profess no desire for it – typically claiming to prefer love or, failing that, “homies to smoke with” – while others are here solely in hopes that a degree will put them one rung closer to the Forbes list. Whether you hate the idea of its very existence or would step over your own mother for a single bill, money looms large.
It’s also frequently thought to be the focus of economics, though that’s not technically the case. In a science built around the efficient use of scarce resources, money is just a convenient quantitative stand-in for these resources and the ability to get them. Still, don’t try telling that to today’s greenback-fixated youth. To them, the stuff is, for better or worse, all that matters. It’s a tool to win a fabulous bling-encrusted lifestyle, a gleaming idol before which to prostrate oneself, an oppressive obstacle standing in the way of free-flowing joy, happiness and weed.
As a result, far too many believe that the loss of money is the only expense to be considered. While money is very often one of the things that must be spent in pursuit of one’s goals, to see it in isolation is to write off numerous other important costs; to name a few, there’s opportunity, energy, dignity and, of course, time.
While college students can be tight with the cash – a staggering aggregate consumption of macaroni and cheese stands as evidence – they tend to be far more profligate with their time, hardly imagining that it’s one of the most useful assets they possess. An average twentysomething buries a lowly sawbuck under a pile of clothes as precaution against thieving roommates, hoards brownies at every social function that dares provide them and yet will think nothing of spending two hours tracking down a bag of slightly cheaper tacos, consuming them during an all-night screening of “The Lord of the Rings” movies.
Because these types don’t think of their time as worth much, economic theory would seem to predict that they’ll squander huge amounts of it toward ends that needn’t even approach being worthwhile. Watch one episode of the latest VH1 sequential nostalgia mine and you’ve only burned half an hour, but watch the whole series and some genuine accomplishment has been forsaken.
But how can you gauge how much your time is worth? The cost of anything is, simply, whatever else the resources could have been used for and is thus forgone. For example, the ingredients to make pancakes could have made biscuits, the components in your computer, a friendly robot. In a free market, resources flow toward their most valued uses. Evidently, we prefer pancakes and computers to biscuits and ‘bots.
Ask yourself what the most valuable use of your time is, and then how much lower what you’re actually doing ranks. If most of your hours are lost to drinking games, it may be time for a reassessment of your spending habits. Be forewarned that fumbling frantically with our zippers while chugging whatever’s in our duct-taped hands may, for some of us, be time’s most valued use. Chilling, but I don’t shy away from the facts.
Daily Nexus columnist Colin Marshall has spent hours calculating how cost-effective a keg stand is. He’s still upside down.