Every day it's getting harder to get bored; some day soon the opportunity to become bored may be eliminated all together, if that has not already happened.

Given a room full of people doing nothing it takes no more than 8.25 seconds for half the crowd to pick up their phone and tap the screen aimlessly; anything to make the deafening quiet go away. That's not to say that scrolling around the Web is not useful but, anecdotally, when I find myself doing the same thing, I feel exactly the same as when I started nervously fidgeting with my phone, only that I've been transported 5 minutes into the future with nothing to show for it but a brief boost of knowledge about a border conflict in some far-away region, that's almost never relevant to me, and that I will completely forget about in a month or two. Your phone is a blackhole; there are people who are paid handsomely to replace dusty corners of your brain with impulses to purchase products and services.

I still do idly click around sometimes when I'm doing nothing else or waiting on something, but I'm getting better about it. Like with correcting upper-body posture, rejecting the impulse to grab your phone is just something you actively need to do until it becomes a passive part of your behavior. The fact I reach for my phone sometimes still when I'm actively becoming bored is an artifact of my programming, a burnt-in, stubborn neuropathway which I am actively working to starve out and kill.

There's no external reward for doing this; actually it will probably socially isolate you even more. If you're not at least up-to-date on who is shooting who in the Middle-East and if you're completely ignorant of which color uniform won the football game last Sunday then you surely don't know who said what on which podcast that made this one guy claim that this other person is worth cancelling. And what's the point of office gossip if you have no common thing to talk about? Nobody will ever tell you “Congratulations!” because they probably aren't looking at you anyway.

Still, I prefer to kick my feet back and forth sitting on a bench than to stare into the empty space between my face and my hands. It's much more calming. Headlines induce fear and reduce opinions into simple categories, not because journalists are intentionally sabotaging you, but because that's what they've found leads to an increase in their click-through rate and ad views and blah blah blah, you can blame the market for this but this is not a fact you could fix even if you blew the ads market off the face of the earth. It's a part of our programming, these platforms just exploit it, regardless of their well-meaning intent, claims of unbiased journalists, or even non-profit status. They are competing for mindshare and will eat you alive if you let them, which was true before the Internet but now is especially true, when the amount of information available to you at any one time is measured in terabytes, not in the pages of a magazine or a newspaper; the increase in supply made the attention economy much more competitive.

I enjoy journaling, drawing, and thinking in boring spaces. Sometimes observing stupid architectural quirks or other environmental goings-ons makes me smile too, and though I hardly recall the details a day later it makes me a little happier, vaguely, even if I don't remember exactly why.

People used to live every day like this; why not try it for ten minutes?