How many times have parents heard the oft said phrase, “I’m Bored” from their child? Well it seems boredom has gone the way of the typewriter, record player, and the dial telephone. Boredom is now a vestige of days gone by and is at risk of extinction.
It’s not only that we avoid boredom, but we actually find numerous ways to eliminate its’ even brief existence. With the advent of the Internet and digital media technology we have managed to eliminate any need to ever be bored. No longer do we need to stand in line at the grocery store or at the bank idly passing time, or wait for a bus or train just thinking, day dreaming, or having a real-person conversation. We don’t even have to lie down to go to sleep and review our day because we have some type of tech media device at our bedside, in our pockets, or on our person all the time to draw our attention and occupy all our waking moments.
So now that we have relegated boredom to near-extinction, and as long as we have a digital gadget that can do just about anything, (and most Smartphones can these days) we never need to venture into nothingness, day dream, fantasize, or even converse real-time with someone next to us. We are all numbed in our respective electronic never land. Social media and other digital wonders don’t really connect us, they separate us from experiencing the present moment (and real-time connection), and all real social interaction has some silences, pauses, and boring moments. Our digital Smartphone and other gadgets never let us down or fail to entertain us!
So isn’t this good news? No more boredom– permanent entertainment?
No, it isn’t good news. We forget that out of boredom comes the potential for creative impulses, motivation for social connection, and inspiration to do new things, invention—boredom can catapult us into new potential action. Without that gap of nothingness we never stop long enough to jump ahead into the unknown, the creative, and strike out to find new bliss. Boredom is the wellspring of creativity. It is not something to be endured, tolerated, or avoided. Rather it is something to be embraced as a moment in time where “nothingness” leads to that creative spark that motivates us get out there do/create something. Without boredom, potential space and time can be filled with too much distraction. Digital Tech is great, but it runs the risk of numbing us too far and too fast, leaving us in a wake of digital delirium not quite human, and not quite machine.
The absence of our self-induced electronic inertia allows healthy boredom to take root and give us a few moments to daydream, fantasize, remember, think, plan, or imagine something in your life. The point is to create and expand that analog world within you and see what develops.
So how do we curtail this modern malady? Simple. Take time off from your digital devices.
Here are just a few ways to unplug from your tech and plug back into life!
- Start by turning off our Smartphone for at least 2 hours at a time. On weekends, extend this period longer.
- When waiting in a checkout line, do not pull out your Smartphone to check for messages.
- Make an effort to not check your personal text/email for a full day (with exception of work or family responsibilities). It helps to schedule time in the AM and PM for checking. This does not include emergencies of course, but not every text, call, email, tweet, or FB post is an emergency.
- Resist the urge to snap a photo of every moment and share with your social media world.
- When at work, keep your cell phone locked in your car. Only check on breaks or lunch time.
- Make sure to take time each day completely away from tvs, phones, tablets, gaming, laptops.
- Do not have your Smartphones on during mealtime, when taking a walk, working out, or reading.
- Turn your Smartphones ringtones or sound alerts off when working, studying, or sleeping.
- Turn off the social media alerts, such as FB or Twitter alerts, on mobile devices. Only check at a designated time each day.
- There is no such thing as multitasking, there is only doing multiple tasks not very well. Focus on one thing at a time.
My assistant often says, “if you are always looking down at the world through your digital device, you are missing the world in front of your eyes.” She’s got a good point and there IS a lovely world to engage in just by looking up.
Remember, boredom is not our enemy to be avoided but rather to be embraced. It is an entrance to new possibilities that can only be known by living those moments of boredom without trying to extinguish them immediately.