Idle hands scroll

Bad advice is a dime a dozen. I look at my Friday, noting I had made no plans. I figured with a busy weekend ahead, and consecutive busy weekends prior, my liver, wallet, and I could use a little break. Just chill at home, I think, it is okay to be bored. By 4:00pm, I know I have made a bad bargain with the devil; idle, bored, and emotionally distraught, I text a friend to hang out. On my way there, ready for a night of gin and good conversation, I think about what a shit advice be bored is. I am bored! That’s the problem.

A lot of advice online is so far removed from reality, at times I wonder who writes it, AI, probably, and who it is for. Many things sound good in theory, I get, but have little to no application in real life. You know what else sounds really good in theory? The productivity gurus’ advice to keep our schedules full of important and productive activities. They tell us, work for 12 hours, workout for 4, and sleep for 8, and well if you add it all up, that’s 24 hours. I’m trying to enjoy living so I have stopped caring about frivolous things like being productive. It takes up too much of my time anyway.

Back to boredom.

So, the science says boredom is good for us: If you’re waiting for brilliance to strike, try getting bored first, boredom can spark individual’s imagination, creativity and productivity. They add, being constantly and endlessly stimulated by the Tik Tokers leaves no time for boredom, thus destroying our ability to be imaginative, creative, and productive. So, how do they suggest we can bring about more boredom into our days? To tap into true boredom, we must “pick an activity that requires little or no concentration — like walking a familiar route, swimming laps or even just sitting with your eyes closed — and simply letting your mind wander, without music or stimulation to guide it.”

I am not a scientist or anything, but I exist in the real world, and just sit there with your eyes closed is pretty shit advice, especially for a generation with the attention span of a speck of dust; none. The idea is appreciated: Who wouldn’t like to be able to just sit still with their eyes closed, go for a walk, with no music, no distractions, simply letting their mind wander? I should do it right now, it sounds so good, but I won’t because it is boring and makes me want to die inside. Ideal, but boring. I reach for my digital hit.

The good advice in the article is that it is a bad idea to try and swipe and scroll the boredom away. But, it doesn’t account for the fact that a generation raised on swiping and scrolling through endless digital junk is unbelievably, beyond comprehension, bored and boring. We do not need to be bored. We are already bored because all we do is swipe and scroll, and because all we do is swipe and scroll we are bored, and boring. If you are bored, you are boring; sorry, I don’t make the rules. So, for someone with the personality of recycled Twitter memes, be bored is the worst advice to get because they are already out-of-their-mind bored and that’s why they spend 5.8 hours on Tik Tok every day. He who is unoccupied and bored will find herself in service of the attention economy; tapping, scrolling, swiping away. But, how do you keep yourself occupied when everything and everyone is online? The best advice is always the simplest (not easy, but simple): get a life. Idle hands scroll.

I can’t tell you how to get a life, we are different people, but here is how I do it, avoid boredom, and give the middle finger to the attention economy while at it.

It’s Saturday, approximately 9:20am. I start the day with what I lovingly call, the bed-to-FitPop-class Saturday special. With the precision of the sleep-in expert, I roll out of bed and am ready to leave the house in 20 minutes max; that’s shower, getting dressed, and grabbing everything I need before running out the door to make it to my 10:30am class. I read on the 30-minute train ride to the studio, and it is quite a hike to spend an hour on commute just to workout, and I can find close-by studios, but I don’t mind it. I use the time to read, listen to music, or enjoy people-watching: there is no cellphone service underground. When I get to the studio, I change to my workout shoes, dance and sweat, and chit-chat with the people there. It’s almost noon when I head out, blissfully high on endorphins; I have checked my phone here and there, but I’m not on it.

Offline living has made me very spontaneous. I hate being bored and I hate being online, so I’m always looking for reasons to stay away from the phone, the laptop, the internet while enjoying myself. Being out and about is a good way to stay offline and enjoy oneself. It’s a gorgeous late-October day. I buy writing supplies, and head to a cafe for my morning routine: coffee, reading, journal. I check my phone here and there but I mostly read, write, and enjoy the pretty decor and delicious coffee and croissant. The cafe sell flowers, and I make a note to buy one for my friend; I’m going to her birthday party later. We found the cafe together and she loved the flowers, it was a good idea to stop by, I think, the living adds up.

By the time I get home, it’s around 3:00pm, and I have about three hours before I leave for the birthday party. I do laundry, and I work on this article. I am online, and surrounded by the digital world, but I’m too immersed in the activity of writing to wander aimlessly from website to website. SelfControl blocks the most deliciously addictive corners of the internet, anyway. It’s 6:00pm now. I get ready, grab the flowers, I get my purse and head out. I listen to music on the way. We drink way too much tequila and I won’t be back home until 5:00 the next morning; I use my phone here and there, but I am not on it.

Until next time,

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  1. Elle VIP Avatar
    Elle VIP

    “Just chill at home, I think, it is okay to be bored. By 4:00pm, I know I have made a bad bargain with the devil” ha I loved this part and this is why I drink.

    You are so right on the “get a life” thing. Figuring out my true passions, not what I wanted as a characteristic to be popular in the attention economy, was a bit part of this for me.

    I don’t have many friends or people to connect with so those lonely ‘boring’ days, especially as the evening draws closer, are hard. But, by working on things I love, I become more authentic and true to myself, open myself up to the right people, become a more interesting person, and like myself more (which ultimately helps me be less bored alone too!)

    I appreciate your writing and always appreciate the friendly approachable tone. When I try to connect people in writing, I feel like I’m too robotic. But maybe I’m just overthinking it.

    On one hand I don’t have many friends but on the other hand I live with love and have a purpose.

    I think having faith in yourself puts you in a position to help others. You have certainly helped me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mehret Biruk Avatar
      Mehret Biruk

      The evenings are HARD, and “why I drink” lol I find the more I live with love, purpose, and conviction, and the enjoyment that comes with that, the easier it is to find people and build community. Write for a person, rather than an audience; this is the advice that helps me really enjoy the process and make it conversational and friendly. That’s a big compliment, thank you ❤


      1. Elle VIP Avatar
        Elle VIP

        Correct, I had this idea that my purpose wasn’t my purpose until earlier this year (after taking a few years away, even) which was weird. I still don’t have as much connection to people as I’d like – which will come naturally as I pursue my purpose again. I’m committed to drinking less alone, and thankfully I don’t find alcohol as addictive as things like.. the entire internet haha.

        Thanks for the tip, here’s a little funny story of the event that got me thinking ‘wow I really need to be more personable when I write’. I started a substack last month for my musings, just a space to write and share some of my struggles and the way I overcame them simple to get my insights out into the world to stop any rumination on them.

        As I’m passionate about IT, I’d been learning about artificial intelligence for fun. Seeing how it’s helping technological advancement was really cool, but I also found myself pondering the implication of concepts like computers learning exponentially quicker than humans possibly could in the future. Regardless, I wanted to see how it worked in action so joined one of those AI text generation sites.

        I was especially fascinating by it being able to answer a question in half a second by typing it out (in any text box) and highlighting it before pressing a quick keyboard command. But I wondered how far it could go.

        When I had an idea in mind for a new email, I went to my substack and decided I’d let the AI write most the article. I was referencing a book, and my memory can be like a sieve. The AI read and summarised the book in seconds, and after I asked it to clarify some chapters and definitions, and cleaned up the email it was about 75% AI, 25% me.

        I sent it out and nobody realised, which isn’t a big deal for a small audience reading non-fiction that can sometimes sway into generic self-helpy territory. But I have an IRL friend who loves the way I think and appreciates my thoughts, and I knew he subscribes!

        We got to talking about AI and how I’d been experimenting. He was gobsmacked when I revealed the email was mostly written by AI, “you’re joking, that seriously wasn’t you?”

        He went on for minutes about how shocked he was!

        FML 😂


      2. Mehret Biruk Avatar
        Mehret Biruk

        Wow… Can I see the article? I am so curious now what AI can generate. How long did it take you to write it with AI versus if you were to write the entire article? I feel that would be the most enticing reason to outsource creative work. I’m honestly happy I’m too technologically challenged to even figure out the AI stuff lol


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