How boredom can lead you to love or love charger

Winter has swallowed up the sun and the sky is the color of charred ashes. If that’s not depressing enough, I read some statistics and arrive at a very depressing truth: Humans are a bunch of bored fools.

The average user checks their phone about 110 times a day, and every six or seven seconds during peak hours, according to data collected by an app called Locket. Another survey found that people typically spend more than three hours a day watching content on streaming platforms. If an alien came to visit humans, our behavior would seem paradoxical: These creatures know their lifespan is short, so they try to make it go faster by scrolling their phones? They have limited time on this planet, so they fill it by watching shows, and often simultaneously scrolling through their phones watching shows. They won’t even try to colonize Earth, believing we’re a planet of fools, they’ll just wait for us to self-destruct. At least our ancestors had creative ways of dealing with jealousy.

Ilu credit: Chad Crow

They tried crochet, embroidery and other remarkably more interesting activities, which has brought the population to a state close to 8 billion. As someone who apparently played a lot of Scrabble said, in their time, boredom was just another anagram for the bedroom. In our time, checking Instagram for the 345th time that day is an excuse. Terry Pratchett once wrote, ‘Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe full of so many wonders, they have managed to invent boredom.’ And having invented this phenomenon, over time we began to behave as if it is a disease and we must immediately treat it with whatever is at hand. Boredom though, is like piped gas. We can refuse to associate with it, use it for cooking, or we can set the kitchen on fire. The authors are acutely aware of the benefits of this peculiar condition. Agatha Christie said, ‘There is nothing like boredom to get you writing.’

Maya Angelou used to lock herself in a hotel room every morning to meet her quota of words. Others have inadvertently discovered the benefits of being limited. JK Rowling often explains the origins of Harry Potter. She was stuck on a long train journey without any work. This was before the advent of smartphones. Otherwise, she would be busy tweeting against gender-neutral toilets and not making up a whole world in the realms of her bored mind.

I’m not suggesting that being trapped in a metal tube without distractions can always lead to creative genius. I’ve been on many flights where disinterested passengers have decided to gin and bear it instead of trying to grin and bear it. Luckily, I have been spared seeing them drunkenly pissing on their fellow passengers.

Boredom can lead to some bizarre behavior even within the four walls of our homes.

In my case, on a dull afternoon, instead of being satisfied with moving my thumbs, I decided to tap my phone. I had just seen the trailer of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan’s ‘Messenger of God’ and heard the iconic song, ‘Tum love charger ho, araboon battery jab neech jaati hai toh pyaar se charge ho jaate ho.’ I started asking people to come with me to catch the first show, on the first day of this cinematic outing, while also urging them to wear T-shirts emblazoned with Love Charger’s face, which at that time could be bought online for Rs 375. Could have done. A lot of people wrote back to me saying that they would come to watch the film with me. Then Dera Sacha Sauda members started approaching me to meet Ram Rahim as I was a big fan. The climax of this disastrous story was when my beleaguered companions, who had never met, or for that matter talked about, Ram Rahim, were questioned by a task force about our connection to ‘God’. He claimed that my tweets showed that I was clearly a devout follower.

On the other hand, boredom at one point, (before the advent of smartphones where I used to idle for hours scrolling through airport looks) also made me take up the arduous task of jogging with my co-actor. More receptive, which eventually led to marriage and two children with slightly more athletic genes. Psychologist Sandy Mann says, ‘Boredom is a search for nervous stimulation that is not satisfied.’ She further says that if there is no opportunity to receive that stimulus the mind must go inward.

This is probably why most of us get our best ideas while in the shower. During monotonous tasks, where there are no distractions, the brain takes in all the fragmented thoughts in our subconscious and makes connections. This often leads to epiphanies, where like Archimedes we feel like stepping out of the bath, damp and naked, screaming ‘Eureka’ at the top of our lungs.

I’m not advocating hour-long showers where our skin turns from grapes to raisins and we deplete the planet’s natural resources. We don’t need to lock ourselves in a hotel room or buy round trip tickets to Thiruvananthapuram to get some deep thought in our mind. Or refuse to watch any content at all, for that matter: how are we going to watch that banned BBC documentary, Rahul Gandhi flying training and all our favorite cat videos?

I’m merely suggesting that we spend a few moments each day embracing our boredom. Giving it your undivided attention, as if it’s a loved one instead of someone else’s whining baby that we want to pass on as soon as possible.

Experts suggest switching off for short periods every day. Doing monotonous tasks like ironing clothes without podcasts playing in our ears. Taking long walks without talking on the phone. Let our bored minds say, ‘Well, here we are, sitting with time in a bucket of soapy water and there’s nobody else to blow it into rainbow bubbles, so let’s do it ourselves.’ Boredom is when leisure meets laziness in the way of a cushy couch with a bag of chips. If we keep these two people away from each other, our mind is free to float along and present a range of insights and thoughts. And if left to our own devices instead of those patented by Apple, boredom could lead to true love instead of a fixed love charger.



The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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