On The Importance of Boredom and Solitude

Some thoughts on Tech, Boredom, and Solitude:

All of our cultural references, our greatest literature, films, plays, paintings, inventions, the greatest gifts of humanity, exist because people had the time to think. Because great minds had time to wrestle with an idea, taking unknown shapes, forms, and ideas; forming them into something real and tangible. I talk about this sometimes with younger people that I tattoo, I ask them to think about it … I remind them that life wasn’t always like this; there is mystery outside of that piece of technology in their pocket.

When can you get any solitude? When do you have time to let your mind settle if it’s constantly reacting to fast twitch stimulation? React. Repeat. React. Repeat. Bertrand Russell, one of my favorite philosophers said, “Constructive purposes do not easily form themselves in the mind if you are living a life of distraction and dissipation, for in that case, your thoughts will always be directed towards the next pleasure rather than the distant achievement.” 
As a creator, I understand that it is important to allow my mind time to settle so that I can work towards that “distant achievement”. 

We seem to believe that boredom is not a part of modern day life even though it is a distinctively human emotion. Wild animals do not experience boredom, they are too busy mating or looking for food, shelter, or predators. We experience boredom because we have minds that can compare the present moment with another potentially better moment. It’s a desire for our days to be something more than what they are, to be different from yesterday, to stand out from one another. We are on the hunt for excitement, which is being marketed to us as we surf the web. All of those ads, ads completely relevant to something you searched for earlier, pop up showing you how easily you can change your state; you can make today different from yesterday by buying something you really want but barely need. We have become the hunted, those ads are the marketers arrows and they are aimed directly at your head. 

It’s easy to forget that we are linked to our past, that we are just part of a long line that stretches back to the beginning of time. That history was full of boredom and the pursuit of keeping it at bay. It’s the reason for books, magazines, pubs, theaters, parties, churches, sports, drugs, alcohol and witch hunts. Bertrand Russell also said, “We are less bored than our ancestors were, but we are more afraid of boredom.” 

Today, we live as if we should never be bored, God forbid your phone dies, and you may actually have to sit with your own thoughts, if you have any at all. Thoughts which come from time, not from fast twitch click bait, thoughts that connect you to a time outside of the moment you exist in now. Thoughts outside of those sunglasses you want, or that book or the new Ipad Pro, thoughts that connect you to the startdust of which we are made, thoughts that put you in to the stream of life. What are you missing out on by living inside of a screen?