What if we tried to be bored? I mean, really went after it with gusto! Got our Seinfeld on and created a half hour about nothing? What if we pursued boredom?
We see the countless articles, studies, and news stories opining on the devastating and still mostly unknown effects of smart phones and social media on the human brain. It’s ironic, because we read these very articles, studies, and stories, after all, on our smart phones while we’re waiting in line at the grocery store, passing time during our kid’s soccer practice, sitting at stop lights, ignoring our spouse at dinner, ignoring the preacher at church, waiting for our coffee meeting to arrive, laying in bed at night…you get the picture. In fact, my guess is you’re reading this article right now in a similar fashion.
The issue is simple: we hate to be bored. And thank God, technology has finally made it possible for us to never be bored again!
We can freak out about technology (and maybe rightfully so), but every generation has had to deal with issues that shift culture in dramatic ways. Ours may be doing it at record pace, but let’s not be chronological snobs and assume we’re all that special. The human race has been doing stupid things for millennia.
So how do we live with incessant technology in healthier ways? I will leave the heavy lifting to the sociologists, but I’m trying a simple experiment in my everyday life.
I’m trying to be bored.
I remember the beautiful ideas that emerged, the way I talked to God, the way my imagination stirred, the way I daydreamed and problem solved on the back of a tithe envelope during a long Sunday night sermon (remember those?), riding my bike in circles on our cul-de-sac, or just staring out the window on a drive across town.
So I’ve started looking for opportunities to be bored again – waiting for a meeting to start, pumping gas, standing in line at Starbucks – to actually see nothing as something. Something valuable. Something to look forward to.
Just like dieting, when I tell myself I can’t have something, I crave it. But if I replace an unwanted desire with a healthier one, then I’m actually going after something rather than just depriving myself of something. The psychology is real with food, and it’s real with that dopamine hit my brain gets every time I pull out my smart phone, too.
So I’m stealing little moments of boredom here and there, letting my brain sit idle, ordering nothing like it’s the best something on the menu. No, I’m not throwing out the smart phone, quitting Facebook, or deleting Words with Friends. The problem isn’t the phone in my hand, its the sin in my heart.
So what do you say? Do you want to be bored with me? Let’s pursue a little boredom together.