Having received all your letters over the years, and I’ve spoken to many of you, and some of you have traveled… y’know… hundreds of miles to be here, I’d just like to say… GET A LIFE, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it’s just a TV show! I mean, look at you, look at the way you’re dressed! You’ve turned an enjoyable little job, that I did as a lark for a few years, into a COLOSSAL WASTE OF TIME!
-William Shatner in a 1986 Saturday Night Live sketch (Shatner later apologized and named his 1999 autobiography after the gaff)
It’s a rare phrase that makes me lose my cool. Any variation of “get a life” does it every time.
“You need a life”
“I wouldn’t do that, I have a life”
“You have too much time on your hands”
All these phrases really mean “I am disrespecting the way you utilize your time. You should spend it the way I do.”
Having focused myself quite diligently in the past year to be hyper-aware of how I use my time and attention, this was an even more surprising and confrontational phrase in that moment.
In fairness, it was just an ill-informed comment from someone who probably does not remember my last name. And so it will not sit with me as a grudge. Instead, it is a catalyst to ask myself why it bothered me. And the implications of the phrase.