Those fateful words “I’ve been here a couple of weeks now and I’m ready to go home! I’m bored!” I just don’t understand it. I am very rarely bored. Especially when travelling. I know people are different but even in countries, I didn’t particularly like I was rarely bored. The only time I find myself bored is when I spend hours staring at a mobile phone, scrolling endlessly, as if Instagram has the answer.
I noticed my mood changing as I increased my use of technology. I was less engaged in life and started to feel lonely. So as an experiment I left my mobile in the hotel and went for a coffee. I was a bit edgy at first but then accepted my situation. With nothing to do other than people watch, I sat and watched the world pass by. I felt far more connected. I felt awestruck. I was blown away by the simplistic beauty of life. Just people passing by in varying states of mood. Some young lovers holding hands like the other will make a run for it if they let go. A couple having a full-on domestic in the street, my Spanish not good enough to translate but neither looks happy. A young woman talking to herself until she sees me and stops, embarrassed. It’s a great reminder that life is happening now. Right now. In front of us. Not in some distant land. Life is not the images served up by social media. They only serve to create the illusion that everyone is doing better than you. A photograph is a snapshot in time. An easily faked snapshot in time. A fake smile presents a false reality.
I recently posted a photo of a beautiful beach in Cancun. The photo tells the story of an idyllic existence. One of carefree wonder. It doesn’t tell the story of the four days of thunderstorms that happened after the photo. Nor does it tell the story of the thousands of mosquito bites. It is easy to fake existence on social media. Hence the divide between the perceived happiness and the actual happiness that has been documented recently. People living to an illusionary audience at all times. Our “followers” have become an omnipotent deity that lives in our heads. Every photo, every status, every tag, all ran through the filter of what will people think? Another thing to be worried about in a simple world resplendent with worry.
Since turning my phone off I have written thousands of words. I am not completely free of technology as I am using this tablet to write on but I feel freer. I feel present and I feel happier. Without the constant bombardment of negativity that is served up by the news and social media, it is easy to see why. I think I will incorporate it into my life, a day without technology. Just to connect to the world in a more healthy way than the illusionary connection that technology serves up. Spending my time staring at a phone makes me feel like I am never really were I am. I am somewhere else. Living someone else’s life. Or feeling bad for some terrible incident that has happened somewhere.
When I engage in life and the people in it I rarely feel bored. I feel alive. I have to avoid boredom. Boredom led me down some dark roads in the past as I sought ways to escape the boredom. I thought that the cure for boredom was stimulation. What I have found in sobriety is that boredom is cured by connection. To life. To myself. To another. To the world around me. I think that is why technology leaves me wanting. I find it to be a poor imitation of life.
I have also noticed that one of the things I miss is peace. Being constantly on the move, consuming activities and experiences, leaves me yearning for time to reflect. I need that time to digest and process what has been going on. Otherwise, I become overwhelmed. My mind becomes backlogged with information waiting to be filed. There is always something to do.
Maybe it is my fear of boredom that won’t allow the feeling into my life. Boredom was the precursor to drinking. In lieu of actual life, I would fill my time with drinking. It filled the emptiness and created the illusion of doing something. Also, the effects of alcohol switched off my brain and silenced the inner critic. So it was useful on many levels.
That’s why now when I feel bored I know it is time to do something… productive, creative or useful. Something that helps maintain my sobriety. I still remember the early days of sobriety, sitting in my house, my life now empty of the social aspect of drinking, climbing the walls. I was fighting the urge to drink constantly. On reflection, it was because I was sitting at home twiddling my thumbs waiting for life to happen. That’s where AA was useful, it got me out of my house and got me connected with the world. There is an abundance of things to do in the world, to say “I’m bored” is to say “I am too lazy to pursue a meaningful activity!”
The modern world is resplendent with distraction yet we remain bored. That could be because the electronic devices that are the main source of entertainment are a poor substitute for actual engagement in life. These devices that are meant to connect leave me feeling empty. I would much rather sit in a coffee shop or walk in the park and watch the world go by.
Being present in life seems to be the cure for me. When I am engaged in my thinking and in my environment I find it difficult to be bored. And when I am in a new place it is nearly impossible.
I guess we are all different.