Life Without Boredom is Boring

Life Without Boredom is Boring

By Molly Melnick

March, 18 2024

With instant access to entertainment, boredom is becoming obsolete – and so are new ideas. 

You’re at a stoplight for more than 20 seconds. You’re at lunch with a friend and they get up to order something. You’re on a bus, a train, a plane, an Uber. You’re in between classes. You’re on the toilet. 

You’re on your phone. 

Everyone can agree to some degree that smartphones are the biggest blessing and curse of our generation, and we probably spend too much time on social media or reading work emails. Yet the first thing people reach for the second they feel boredom coming on is their phones. This might just be why society today is facing a nosedive in creative thinking, coined the “creativity crisis.”

Boredom is perhaps the most powerful emotion for fueling creativity. As author Neil Gaiman said, “Ideas come from daydreaming. They come from drifting.” Some of America’s greatest authors, such as Maya Angelou, George Orwell, and Henry David Thoreau famously isolated themselves in boring spaces simply to drive themselves to invention. 

Without boredom, there is no need for invention. There is no need for creativity. There is no need for drifting. 

Without boredom, there are no new ideas. 

With all the nuances of smartphones, the idea of being bored is nearly obsolete. The second under-stimulation hits, it can be remedied with the tap of a screen.

America’s culture of extreme productivity doesn’t help this issue. For many, the commute on the metro can be a time to catch up on emails, respond to texts, or read the daily news. Having these moments of boredom make people feel as though they should be immediately productive with their time. And yes, these are important tasks. But there is no way to turn it off. 

Gone are the days of staring out of a moving car window and letting the mind run free. Gone are the days of hearing little kids create a game to pass the hours. Gone are the days of picking up a paper and pen simply because there was nothing else to do.

Instead, we are fed a constant stream of entertainment – and it is suffocating us. 

On an even larger scale, the lack of new ideas creates a monotony in life outside of our own personal creativity. British architect Thomas Heatherwick has pointed out the drab efficiency of modern architecture today, calling it an “epidemic of boringness.” Fashion writer Kleigh Balugaon points out how fashion has been largely unchanged for the last 20 years, mostly just regurgitating pieces from 90s and 2000s trends. New York Times author Ross Douthat wrote an entire book discussing how boring American society is today, with fewer businesses being opened, fewer lifestyle changes being made, and a decline in decadence across society in general. 

This brings the point full circle: life without boredom is actually more boring

If there’s one thing people can agree on about the 2020 pandemic, it’s that the surplus of free time gave us the biggest boost in creativity and imagination that we’ve seen in a long time. In 2024, it is important to remember that sentiment and build off it. It is okay to not be productive. It is okay to let the mind drift. It is okay to zone out. It is okay to sit in silence. These moments of boredom can lead to moments of genius.

So, take the advice of some of history’s greatest thinkers. Be bored. Choose it. Enforce it. Let the mind wander – and great things will come. 

Molly Melnick is a senior majoring in professional and public writing. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her daydreaming out a window as a result of her self-imposed boredom.