Millennials think differently. That much we’ve been told again and again. They are more taken with ideas than things, embrace minimalism and seek refuge from a lifestyle that’s constantly on the go. As a result, a whole host of new activities has become popular. Be it visiting strange countries, traveling with only women or men, themed holidays and stay-cations.
The thing is, by the time they enter into the collective conscious, many of these trends have already peaked and are on their way out. What you need is something that isn’t just a trend but is also movement. What we need to find is something that is a counter-reaction to current living trends and which is more than just a fad. Something that offers us benefits (preferably backed by silence).
Perhaps that might be boredom? Yes, that’s right. I just did write’ boredom’. It’s fascinating, really. For most of us that is something we’re desperate to escape. Our entire society seems to be geared towards constantly offering people something, anything, everything so they can avoid spending even a moment wondering about what they should do.
Perhaps our fear of boredom stems from days gone by when we did indeed spend a lot of time with very little to do. Only a century ago there was no television, radio had only just emerged and electric lighting was still a long way off. That meant people didn’t have that much to do back then. And so naturally, they tried to find whatever way they could to counter the boredom.
Of course, now things are different. Rather than being under stimulated, for most of us the problem is the opposite. Most of us feel like we’re drowning in a sea of information and people are constantly talking about unplugging and disconnecting.
To me, that means that they’re harking for simpler times – times when there was still time to be alone with your own thoughts and to let ideas play out. An age of boredom, if you will.
The Science of Boredom
But it turns out that boredom might not actually be as bad for us as we think it is. For children, it helps promote their imagination and makes them focus on their own mental space. And that makes sense, after all when they are not constantly being engaged by others then they have to turn to their own faculties. And those reside within themselves and their imagination. For children it is now often a luxury to simply let their thoughts play out and see what ideas they arrive at.
For adults too, there is something to be said for not constantly being stimulated by the world outside. For example, when we’re occasionally bored at work we end up being more creative as well. Similarly, if we spend more time trying to come up with solutions to a problem, then to fight off boredom we end up coming up with more interesting solutions. It goes even further, with people who were already bored ending up being more creative afterwards, as they engaged with tasks more completely.
Then there is the benefit to our relationships, the way that not being constantly engaged makes us remember more of the things around us, and then there are the many benefits to unplugging in general.
Boredom in Society
Sure, it will be a long time before you’ll find somebody yelling ‘Oh god, give me boredom for a week!’ Boredom will probably stay a dirty word. At the same time, that won’t stop this very sentiment from becoming more common. Already it’s prevalent and present in all the ways that we can now unplug and disconnect. But that looks to be only the beginning.
Because the absence of technology alone will not be enough. People will want exercises, ideas and philosophies to take their place. They will want boredom guidelines, if you will. Sure, there are already some variants out there. There is yoga, meditation, health retreats and so on. And those are a great first set of options. But they’re hardly enough. They all have a floatly spiritual edge which is great for some, but too much for the more literally minded. If boredom is to go mainstream, then it will have to introduce a set of ideas that have wider appeal.
Chances are the best such activities would come back to us from our past. People would seek out each other, they would take on evening projects in which they could lose themselves, they would discuss topics and play games.
Already, we can see some of these events re-emerging. Board games, for example, are evolving and making a comeback. Similarly, we’re banning technology from the dinner table and in other ways developing norms to engage with each other, and even reading is on the rise.
And From There, Travel
Our travels are certainly not unaffected by this trend. Ever more, we see holidays that make it easier to unplug. Even more encouraging, travel locations aren’t just suggesting that we unplug. They’re also suggesting alternative activities for us to engage in, such as paper and pencil games, questions to get the ball rolling and so on. In this way, people can slide more comfortably into a low-tech, lower speed mindset, so that we can end up comfortably bored, if you will.
And from there, they’re in a position to embrace creativity and think of new things – whether that be ways to create the best translation service, the plot of their book, or simply hang out with the people they care about.
This trend will only accelerate as companies come up with new ways to entertain their guests just enough. No doubt, as businesses latch onto the creative possibilities of taking teams to places where they aren’t forced through team building exercises but are simply allowed to be, we’ll witness an explosion of these types of vacations as well.
And from there boredom will become big business. Really, the big holdup is still that we don’t know what to call it.
Dina Indelicato is a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer. She is always open to research about new topics and gain new experiences to share with her readers. Currently she is a writer for Pick Writers You can find her on Twitter @DinaIndelicato and LinkedIn.