Either/ Or: Practical Entertainments or Scrolling Nowhere Fast

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Either/ Or: Practical Entertainments or Scrolling Nowhere Fast

While it’s true that entertainment, specifically practical entertainments, didn’t make the final cut on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I think if there were a hierarchy of wants entertainment would be high on the list. Everyone needs a break from time to time. We all need to cut loose and relax. What do you do for entertainment?

What if, through a practical approach to entertainment, you actually begin to fill in the gaps in Maslow’s Hierarchy and fulfill your needs by doing nothing more than avoiding boredom? In this article I discuss some practical ways to entertain yourself and to make yourself more socially valuable in times of stress.

Socially Valuable??

That’s right. I said socially valuable. Useful.

I believe firmly that God Himself assigns each and every one of us with an intrinsic value as a human. We are made in His image, and I believe to Him we are all worth the greatest price imaginable. He paid the price Himself, in full.


The COVID debacle should have taught us all some important things. As for myself, I learned that toilet paper has more value to most people than staples like beans and rice. I also learned that reason and critical thinking are not valued very highly at all.

Did you learn anything during that trying time? Did the crisis cause you to consider the fragility of the global supply lines and our “just-in-time” method of stocking the supermarket? The bare toilet paper aisle positively glowed like a beacon.

It’s sad to admit, but I have no idea how my neighbors really feel about me or whether they assign any intrinsic value to my life whatsoever. After all, neither of us is God and in the worst of times it’s difficult to know how someone will react when, say, their children are whimpering because they have reams of toilet paper and electronics but nothing to fill their growling bellies.

So, what does COVID have to do with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Why are practical entertainments more valuable than nearly anything else you could be doing right now?

What if you could increase your stake in every tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and simultaneously vastly increase your social value by avoiding boredom? You would be doing nothing more than investing the same amount of time, money and effort into practical entertainments as you do in the less-than-useful time wasters we participate in now.

This is a fairly self explanatory depiction of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. I think there are elements missing, such as spiritual fulfillment, but the scientific consensus appears to disagree. Therefore I’ll leave spiritual stuff out of this conversation.

Entertainment as Education

Consider your hobbies. How do you entertain yourself? Do you, in fact, entertain yourself at all, or are you more likely to allow yourself to be entertained? Do you spend your time assembling models, collecting rare coins or perhaps watching television? Are you a gamer? A shopper? Do you spend countless hours posting and scrolling through social media seeking self esteem, confidence, achievement and respect?

Do you actually find those things on social media?

Take an honest appraisal of your down time. Does it produce anything for you? Does it perhaps repair something? What if you could continue to pursue your interests but modify them somewhat in order to produce a practical result? What if those modifications led to the fulfillment of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and made you a valuable asset in a world which is not so easy to navigate.

What if your hobbies today could make you indispensable in an extended crisis? Here are some modification ideas, including a few I’ve implemented in my own life.


The ginormous industry surrounding kitchen supplies and the myriad websites on the internet pertaining to recipes and cooking (not to mention some history) make it crystal clear that in times of duress food is going to be all the rage.

Are you a person who loves to cook? Have you ever thought about the supply chain and just how complex the culinary industry is? Have you ever thought seriously about just what it takes to put a single meal on your kid’s plates?

If for some reason trucks didn’t run for a few months, what would it take to feed a family?

From pasture to plate, from field to frying pan, your culinary goodies may make a journey of thousands of miles. It may require refrigerated ship holds and trucks. It may require toxic fertilizers or consist of genetically modified frankencorn and you don’t have any idea what may come from those long term. I’d wager, if I wagered, that the producers of those products don’t know and don’t care what happens to consumers either.

If the trucks stopped running one day what could you do to stave off the inevitable call of the angry bowels? How could you avoid panic?

If you have even a small yard you can grow vegetables. You can grow chickens and eggs. If you don’t have a yard but you have a window sill you can grow herbs and spices. If you have a patio you can grow luscious tomatoes and peppers. If you have a good relationship with your apartment manager and some persuasion skills you may be able to convince him or her of the wisdom of building a greenhouse system. Vertical gardening done properly can produce an enormous amount of food in a minimal space.

Consider how growing your own food, even if it’s only a fraction of your total needs, can tick off Maslow’s boxes.

You provide yourself and your family with sustenance. With nutrition. You can perhaps provide your neighbors with the same. What could that do?

Physiologically your nutritional needs could be at least partially met by your own efforts. Meeting those nutritional needs provides at least some measure of bodily security. The effort could be made into a family project which meets many of your needs for belonging and closeness. To learn a craft like gardening, which you may be completely unfamiliar with, is a difficult challenge and would certainly provide a sense of accomplishment. The creativity required for solving the complex problems of dealing with limited budget or space checks off the capstone of Maslow’s hierarchy.

By expanding the scope of cooking to food production you will have at least partially met every single human need according to Maslow. The scientific consensus would be that you have done well and deserve to eat the juciest, most tender lemon grass chicken you have ever tasted. The long term, goal oriented gratification would be ever so sweet.

Clothing as Entertainment

Perhaps fashion is your thing. The same principles I used above to expand your interest into the full breadth of an industry can be applied to clothing.

A trip to Joann’s Fabric store for the first time might elicit a passionate addictive response for someone interested in doing and producing, rather than only consuming and, well, not doing. Imagine the possible creative outlets and the utility of learning to design and make your own clothes.

Once upon a time making your own clothing was a less expensive alternative to the big department stores. Not long before that, creating your own wardrobe was mandatory for many. Now the art and skill of the custom seamstress or tailor is being lost, one baby boomer at a time.

The market for fashioning clothing from material has been closed off for some. Sadly, the labor has been outsourced and you can buy clothes off the rack made by factory workers overseas making pennies. Their skill is exploited and those of more developed countries are losing their ability because the art is not being passed down.

Going further, from materials in Joann’s the more industrious among us may want to learn about textiles in general, and how they are made. As with cooking, the journey to your closet may cover thousands of miles. What if the old knowledge were revived and a cottage industry built around one of a kind textiles and high quality materials could be established again?

The one who would trade their obscenely expensive shopping habit for an education in textile production or custom clothing design, without the benefit of t-shirt print shops, may someday find him or herself in a once again booming industry.

For those with eyes to see, the imminent difficulties in overseas shipping and logistics are crystal clear. What if your practical entertainment today could become your head start in in a vital industry tomorrow? What if you were the one positioned and well trained to fill in the gap in the supply chain, ready at a moment’s notice to scale up and provide your neighbors with protection from the elements, with a chic twist of course?

Once again, every single step in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs could be filled by simply expanding a natural interest in fashion into a fuller understanding of the complete process of clothing production.

A HandyPlan

Modern ladies may claim to love effeminate guys with soft hands and a perfect manicure… but most don’t, really. They only say that because it’s currently fashionable and part of their digital conditioning. In real reality, not much is sexier than a guy who has the motive, means, ability and the tools to fix anything that needs fixing, anytime, anywhere.

The myth of toxic masculinity ends with the handyman. He is the Jack of All Trades, the Master of Some. He is a collector. He has collected every tool for every conceivable situation and he knows how to use them. He tinkers for fun, and his practical entertainment makes him a man so useful and so sought after in a pinch that rather than being toxic, with his dirty hands and soiled jeans, he is a breath of fresh air.

The handyman is resourceful. He has the ability to take what is available and turn it into a win, whether in a residence or in life. He’s driven to get things done by any means necessary. If his employer provides the needed resources he can fix it right. If his employer can’t provide a lot of money for parts or materials the handyman can pull off an acceptable fix with nearly anything on hand.

The handyman does what he does because he likes it. I predict that in time the truly professional handyman, who strives to be presentable and do it right because that’s the right thing to do, will be a person so in demand that they will be forced to turn down work or expand into a flourishing business with multiple employees.

Fabricating Stuff

Under the broad umbrella of fabrication I’ll include all of the artisanal activities which have been outsourced to less developed places in recent decades, as well of builders and makers of all kinds.

Pottery making and basket weaving have been relegated to the status of quaint pastimes kept alive only by workshops and museum exhibits. There was a time, before dirt cheap mass production and overseas shipping, where making household utensils and tools was a mandatory activity. I think it’s not only possible, but probable, that at some point in the future it will be again.

Carpenters and stone masons were once indispensable. These occupations require concentration, creativity and in many cases high precision. As a form of practical entertainment you could make the goal of doing the work as finely as possible while using only hand tools or filling your home with handmade, matching furniture in any style you choose. From cutting a dead tree to riving boards to planing, flattening and piecing an end table together without nails, immense satisfaction can be had while gaining vital skills which may become extremely useful someday.

Wood and stone workers can’t do their fine hand work without exceptional iron or steel tools. Blacksmithing offers the chance to learn skills and place yourself in the shoes of artisans who have perfected the art of metal work and who made work and even cross country wagon travel possible.

Leather craft is the oldest form of fashion on Earth. The second pair of speedos ever was made from leather, which proved to be much more durable than fig leaves. Wood bark and various other tannins can be used to turn raw skins into leather, and eventually into so many useful items that the list is nearly endless. Leather is luxurious, durable, beautiful and when tanned naturally it smells amazing. It’s easy to make all kinds of things and the barrier to entry is fairly low. Tools are relatively inexpensive. With time and practice comes great skill, so that boots and shoes, clothing, saddles , mouse pads, purses and a million other things can be made.

Reclamation and Scavenging

Savvy and observant people with even a smidgin’ of understanding about international matters may have noticed that trade with countries like China is becoming unstable. Taiwan is a primary supplier of circuits and electronic gizmos, and appears to be at the center of a pending international conflagration. Whether the Chinese Communist Party is successful in gaining control of Taiwan or not, if there is a major incident then parts and doodads may become nearly impossible to find, and therefore hot commodities.

Curiosity about electronics and a can-do attitude could perhaps lead to a lucrative trade in repair and meet many vital needs in a community. For example my coffee maker stopped working recently, a vexing problem. I would have been happy to know a friend who knew how to fix it.


If the situation arises that communities must come back together out of necessity and the electronics are not operating properly because no one learned to scavenge and repair circuits then localized entertainment will be vital.

Acoustic musicians would likely find themselves favorites among the people. During hard times music can lift a soul up out of the depths of depression and despair. Acoustic guitars and basses, fiddles, cellos and all manner of old fashioned instruments may be in fashion very quickly. A small collection of quality instruments and the strings to power them would be a fantastic investment. Lutherie, or instrument repair skills, would come in handy as well.

Another bonus hobby idea, which happens to go hand in hand with music and community gatherings, is the production of hooch. The person who can safely make wine or other beverages can also make a lot of friends and meet a lot of Maslow’s needs as well.

Final Thoughts

The notion that life will go on as usual and advance to the point where we all sit at home collecting checks because robots do the tedious lifting is nice, to some I suppose. I find it highly unlikely, given the tensions around the world and what has been a steady march toward increased volatility for decades. The last few years should have shown us all that despite our fantastical technology, real life still consists of nuts, bolts and human powered elbow grease.

In the off (highly likely) chance we revert for a time to a more subsistence lifestyle then these skills would not only set you apart from the crowd of service-only skilled scrollers, but also from the highly technically skilled web gurus who have no idea how to grow a tomato or patch a hole, whether in a pair of jeans or in a leaky roof.

If subsistence becomes the norm, even temporarily, then production, repair and recycling skills, along with the tools to implement them, will become the currency of the future.

Check out www.loveandashovel.com

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