Under narrowly defined circumstances, boredom can be a good thing. It can lead to greater levels of creativity. However, the solution to boredom is never to seek out distractions – the habit of which can be spiritually and emotionally devastating. In fact, the need to constantly be distracted is a telltale sign that we are not comfortable with ourselves or with reality—there is something wrong. But rather than confronting reality in an effort to seek understanding or make any potential changes, we often avoid it (think screen time) with little to no regard for the consequences.
I am becoming increasingly convinced that much of the anger portrayed in the news and online is contrived. Most people are just so desperate to feel something that they’re willing to manufacture it. We’ll do and say almost anything simply to get a rise not out of others, but out of ourselves. Other people are just scapegoats for whom we take our boredom out on. It isn’t obvious that we care about them any more than we care about the issues. We’re simply bored, so we’re trying to find something to do. And because of how desensitized we are that usually means saying and doing some pretty awful things.
It would be great if we found something constructive to do—if we were anxiously engaged in a good cause. But for that to be a realistic expectation we would have to re-educate ourselves both morally and intellectually. Indeed, we would have to develop the capacity to maturely respond to our boredom. The lost art of being still would need to become a priority again.
But good luck getting anyone’s attention. Oftentimes, we are too busy distracting ourselves in the thick of thin things to concern ourselves with life’s weightier matters. Besides, even when a responsible party successfully captures our attention, holding it for longer than the time it takes to finish a sentence can be difficult.
Consider this: even when we read an article that is of genuine importance (namely, this one!), rarely is it able to hold our attention for longer than the time it took to read it. By the end of the article, rather than giving it any further thought, we’re already in search of the next article. And the next. And the next.
And it’s not just information that we’re discarding without as much as a second thought. People are almost as interchangeable as our favorite pair underwear. In fact, we are becoming so bored with each other that we would rather spend the majority of our time glued to our electronic devices than giving any quality attention to members of our own family. Human relationships just can’t compete with the convenience and instant gratification of virtual relationships. There’s too much time and effort and sacrifice required of the real thing for us to really care about it. So we don’t, at least not as long as there exists relatively effective alternatives.
If we’re not already, we are becoming stimulus junkies. We’re in constant need of a new and ever-increasing fix. But the more we are artificially stimulated the less effect it has on us. Which is why the intensity and faux-rage continues to escalate. It’s not enough anymore to elect a president. We have to elect a president who is emotionally – not intellectually, mind you – stimulating. Otherwise, we can’t muster the courage to care. And this goes for both the Left and Right. Democrats, though they complain incessantly about it, are similarly responsible for the election of Donald Trump. Among other things, they couldn’t stop obsessing over him. He was far too . . . well, triggering; which, to the delight of some voters, caused inexorable joy. Never mind the fact that their candidate was arguably just as morally corrupt. But hey, at least she was a woman, right?
And this is to say nothing of micro-aggressions and safe-spaces. Our desperation to feel something – anything, really – leads us to vilify otherwise innocent people for offenses that are apparently so subtle they often go unnoticed. Which begs the question: If they’re unnoticed by both offender and offendee alike, why the emphasis? Why are we expending so much human capital and resources training people to notice them, i.e. to take offense? Anyone that suggests it’s to promote justice or civility, much less emotional resiliency, is willfully withholding the truth, or worse.
In any event, at least part of the answer seems to be boredom. And immaturity. Which when combined has the potential to produce deviant immorality. You’ve been warned.
So although it may be uncomfortable, ask yourself: If you stopped distracting yourself from your boredom, what might you learn about yourself and your life that you don’t want to know?
It may just change your life.