That said, Gagnam style brought a smile to my face and added a bounce to my step; there's room for many things in culture and not all time is wasted, even "downtime". I'm sure Bach took breaks too.
Gangnam Style is brilliant. You can watch it dozens of times, always discovering something new. It also spawned a large number of extremely entertaining spoofs.
It would indeed be a sad world if we had peaked culturally at Bach. Fortunately, we haven't.
The terms arrogance and pretense were used for a reason.
If you think Pop culture is a waste, then why not calculate 90%+ of YouTube multiple by # of views, time people spent in front of the television since its existence, as well as movies, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Computer games, etc.
In fact, most of the time and bandwidth being spent on "The Internet" is a waste - according to this theory.
By one analyst's calculation, the 11 million or so registered users of the online role-playing fantasy World of Warcraft collectively have spent as much time playing the game since its introduction in 2004 as humanity spent evolving as a species-about 50 billion hours of game time, which adds up to about 5.9 million years.
TLDR my response: don't be so judgmental.
And of course there's opportunity "cost". Presumably a fair fraction of that 14,000 years just replaced watching other Internet videos or other inanity instead. It's not like we'd reclaim 14,000 years of productivity by never having had Gangnam.
And people multitask, watching a video in one window while doing something else. Or just play it in the background for the music, not even watching the video. We wouldn't count every Winamp or iTunes play of the song as the same wasted time.
Of course, if you added all the numbers for all the stupid youtube videos, memes, worthless news articles, facebook posts, etc. together, then you'd probably get something terribly depressing. My guess is some tiny fraction of humanity actually sustains the rest of the species. They are the (much less than) 1%.
We have an entire generation of people distracted every 30 seconds by fart apps, juvenile videos and self-photos in the bathroom. We need more engineers, doctors and lawyers and serious thinkers.
Maybe I'm just getting older, but that's my honest opinion.
Um, the site is counting man-hours for YouTube videos, but I know there was more than just one guy working on the Empire State Building.
According to Wikipedia, there were 3,400 workers on the project, so the correct comparison would be 14,526 years to 6,800 years. And I bet I had a lot more fun adding my 15 minutes to Gangnam Style than I'd have adding 15 minutes to build the Empire State Building.
People are also amazed when I tell them I haven't seen Avatar, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I guess I'm just different than most people.
So if you want to determine how much time you have 'wasted' related to the video, add up the time spent saying how you haven't seen it.
Edit: There is no anger involved, other than maybe a little at being called angry. :) It is just pointing out an aspect of the human condition. (I stopped watching TV for a few years around the time this article came out and this article gave me some extra self awareness.)
I'm betting that everyone on Earth went to the loo today, and also averaged 90 seconds.
Humanity wasted 19,889 years shitting today.
It took only 21 years to build the Taj Mahal in India!
What a waste.
While we're on the subject, you might find this article entertaining: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groom_of_the_Stool
Not to mention building cultural bridges...
After all, what is the point of the time we have, other than to enjoy it?
In the case of the Eiffel Tower, it has received over 250 million visitors. Assume that people spend an hour per visit, that's around 30,000 years wasted visiting the Eiffel Tower.
Now that's a super interesting snippet. Despite existing for far longer than Gangnam, the Eiffel Tower has only entertained twice as long total as Gangnam. Technology has democratized access to experiences.
Attempting to calculate the man-hours that went into almost any project of scale is absurd. There are far too many factors to consider.