I have spent an unhealthy amount of time in front of a device scrolling and scrolling. Every second there is more content to consume. There is a funny video, a meme, a political rant, an inspiring quote, a funny video, a meme, a political rant, an inspiring quote and it goes on and on in a loop. From time to time I break the loop and turn to a long interesting article that tickles my intellect. I read and feel smarter. Then I look for another article to give me more of that same substance, but I can't get more.
“In other words, I am bored.”
The more I consume, the more I need to consume, the more bored I feel. I often turn to video games to release the tension. I can spend two solid hours shooting at virtual objects until I start to feel less entertained. I then find myself pulling up my phone closer to consume more scrollable content while still playing the game. Only when all my sense are stimulated at the same time, I feel relieved.
Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit, others believe it is more around 66 days. Either way, it shows that we are creatures of habit and if we perform a task long enough it becomes part of our routine. Boredom becomes part of our routine. We have to consume social media to become less bored, yet the more we consume the more bored we are.
This becomes the new norm. Anything less will result in that acute sense of boredom. Have a conversation with a friend, you'll feel bored. They can't possibly compete with a video game, a political rant and a funny video at the same time. Right in the middle of a conversation you hear that familiar beep from your phone and you have to pick it up. It's not that you ignore your friends, or the dinner conversation, it's that you need to have them all occur at the same time to feel normal.
I found myself in the early stages of habit forming boredom, trying to write a post right here on this blog. I had to push myself to type whatever that popped out of my empty head. It was a long incoherent rambling about the fact that I didn't have anything to write. But along the way something happened.
Switching from consumption to production started to break the thick barrier of habit I had formed in the past. The more I wrote, the easier it was to get ideas out of my head. The more ideas came out of my head, the less I was feeling the need to be entertained. I spent the rest of the day writing about something that I thought was fun, even if it's just for myself.
“Producing is better than consuming. ”
The mind is like a magical rabbit hat. You can fill the magic hat with an infinite number of rabbits and there is always room for one more. You can't watch enough Netflix shows, there is always room for one more. If you watch one show because you are bored, you can also watch 3 shows.
The same goes for producing, with a little extra. You can pull an infinite amount of rabbits out of the hat, when it seems empty, dig a little deeper and you find another rabbit. The more you produce, the more ideas you get. And the added benefit is that you feel less the need to be entertained.
To put it in less theoretical words, make something. Create something. Build something. Anything!
The cure for boredom is not a constant stream of entertainment. It's creating something that wasn't there before.