Boredom: A New Epidemic
Originally Published on the Author’s Substack.
Why will we never be satisfied?
For hundreds of years, human entertainment has come, in various forms of live entertainment: theater, personal interaction, and conversation. Only in the last few decades has technology developed in such a way that we are now conditioned to be constantly stimulated by the device in our hands.
We take our phone everywhere with us, we break out in a cold sweat if we don’t feel it in our pocket, and we grow anxious when we hear a notification sound but are unable to view it.
Particularly for millennials and any generation since – this is all we know. We’re lost without our devices. Not just because we are addicted to that infinite blue light and the power of information radiating from our fingertips, but because on top of all that, we’re addicted to the chaos. The chaos bombards our consciousness every time we scroll: new celebrity gossip, who said what about whom, and observing lives of luxury through heavily edited images, wishing that was our life.
Aside from the toll this takes on mental health, the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to our relationships. The overall percentage of millennials getting married by the age of 32 has declined from 47% in 1980 to 29% in 2015.
Enter dating apps. A whopping 74% of millennials and Gen Zers use dating apps. While this doesn’t necessarily correlate with unhappiness, let’s take a moment to assess the situation.
- Human Interaction: 39% of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than with their significant others, parents, friends, children or co-workers.”
- Technology + Dating Apps: Meeting a potential partner no longer requires more effort than swiping right
- Casual Sex: 62% of millennials believe in casual sex
- Binge Drinking: 31% of people who classify as alcoholics are young people
- Depression: 41% of Gen Z and younger Millennials are currently dealing with anxiety and depression
If we combine all of these things and more, what sort of recipe does that concoct for our relationships? For one thing, despite being constantly “connected,” we’ve been robbed of the ability to connect with our fellow humans personally.
Besides having had the world at our fingertips for the better part of our whole life, what does it mean when things are standing still, as they inevitably do? You guessed it. Boredom. Boredom is the new epidemic of the generation. Or is it?
After being in the same, steady, committed relationship for several years, boredom will certainly rear its ugly head. Surely this means it’s time to move on to something or someone else, right? The constant need for excitement, gratification, and something new fills our bloodstream.
But what if boredom is really just peace? Before smartphones, people sat around fires or their homes. They enjoyed each other’s company with or without conversation. Would they have called that boredom or just life?
Boredom is an emotion, just like feeling sad or happy. It doesn’t mean your life is meaningless or your relationship has run its course. It means those things need your effort.
Thanks to technology, the progression of hookup culture, and the illusion of “the perfect life,” many of us are so caught up in chasing constant excitement that our attention spans have shriveled into hopeless scraps of nothing. There is no such thing as never being bored, like there is no such thing as never being sad. It’s unrealistic. Being bored is part of being alive. Call it quiet contentment or some mysterious lack of chaos, there are plenty of struggling people in the world that would give anything to experience that kind of peace.
Chasing a life or a relationship without boredom is like chasing the sunrise. No matter how hard you try it’ll always be out of your reach. So relax, stay a while, and enjoy the calm before your next adventure.
One of our country’s most important freedoms is that of free speech.
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2 replies added
From the article:
“Being bored is part of being alive. Call it quiet contentment or some mysterious lack of chaos . . .”
Exactly. And boredom actually has *plenty* of benefits:
Being bored is a choice. There’s a lot of laziness involved in people who are bored. Too many jobs out there to be had.