“I haven’t been bored since the 90s,” someone told me this week and I agreed. At first, I presumed it was because that’s when I had my first child and it’s hard to be bored when you’re busy. Or is it? In fact, lots of things can keep you occupied while simultaneously boring your pants off. Things like housework. Or commuting. Doing your BAS. Or pushing swings.
Anyway, it’s not just parents who have replaced boredom with overwhelm. It’s an epidemic. I think boredom started dying in the 90s because that’s when mobile devices and technology began sucking the dull bits out of our lives and replacing them with…. endless distractions. There’s just no time to be bored anymore, no opportunity. We’re too busy with choice, with connectivity, with Facebook friends and Twitter followers and Linked-In requests and endless YouTube videos of cats and interesting articles to read and a billion photos and home movies sitting idle on our computers, taunting us.
We seem to have misplaced the pause button on the remote that controls our lives. For example, work is no longer contained by anything. Not geography, not time of day, not weekends, not even illness (have you noticed how sick days have now become – ‘I’ll work from home today’?). Same goes for our social lives. Staying home on Saturday night? Your friends can still find you via social media and your phone!
Mostly, all this suits me because I’ve always been someone who prefers constant distraction. I’ve never been one for contemplating my navel in a quiet room.
Even if I wanted to contemplate something, quiet rooms don’t exist in my house. Small children are averse to closed doors and the concept of solitude so we don’t even have rooms really. Just one giant communal space which includes bathrooms and a roving cast of family members and pets. If I’m ever alone, I substitute radio, TV, my laptop, iPhone or iPad so I’m always swimming in some kind of mentally stimulated soup.
Suddenly, every boring gap in our lives can be filled. Traffic lights, queues, walking to your car, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, riding the bus, even sitting on the loo is an opportunity to do something else (it’s astonishing how often you notice this in public toilets now, people having phone conversations in the next cubicle, I can only imagine how many more are using their phones silently).
I remember saying “I’m bored” often as a kid.
My own kids rarely say it and while I’d love to think it’s because they’re highly imaginative and content to play with sticks in the garden, I fear it’s because they’ve known how to work the iPad and the IQ since they were toddlers.