“I’m So Bored”
Those are three little words that I hate more than almost any other phrase in the English language. Not annoyed, irked, irritated, bothered, or even disturbed by it…though I do experience all of those to one degree or another…no, there’s just no milder word for the fundamental emotion in me when I see or hear it.
It’s one of the few things a person can utter, verbally or written, that makes me want to break my commitment to the Zero Aggression Principle and administer a good solid whack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper to the person saying it.
I know I’m not the only one wanting to deal out a little percussive therapy to its speaker upon hearing this, either. I’ve read countless stories of grandparents, parents, or other parties performing the same action or a close variant when a child or adolescent said those words. Now, I don’t believe that it’s ever okay to initiate force against anyone, so I’d get the speaker’s attention in a gentler way, but that’s one that I could never let pass.
If this description fits you, I gotta ask: how in God’s name can you possibly be bored, especially in this day and age? I’m not going to list all of the options available to you…that’ll give you the first thing to do to keep you busy, though I suspect you’re already familiar with many of them. Many people are but they can’t be bothered to do so much as lift a finger to avail themselves of the near-endless list of things they could be doing.
I’m seeing more and more of this nonsense every
year month week day, it seems, and that tells me something:
Our culture is dying, and fast. Think I’m overstating the severity of this issue? Not hardly, as I want to discuss today.
What do people really mean when they claim they’re bored? It’s pretty obvious, they’re saying they’re simply too lazy to actually do anything, or even turn their brains up a notch beyond a lukewarm ‘standby’ position and think about something interesting. They want some kind of novel stimulation or sensation, and they want it brought to them, rather than looking for it. The prevalence of this attitude among so many people these days, young and not so young, scares the hell out of me, and it should scare the hell out of you, too. It’s dangerous, not only for the allegedly bored individual, but for those around them and in a larger view, the civilization in general.
People that dependent on simple sensation provided by others, rather than their own efforts to occupy their time or amuse themselves, have never learned how to think creatively or realized the value in being able to do so. Owing to the pervasive influence of both popular culture that grows more chaotic and nihilistic all the time, along with a public school system that actually discourages creativity and critical thought in favor of mindless repetition and regurgitation of whatever claptrap their bureaucratic doctrine deems appropriate to stuff down the throats of those they’re charged with ‘educating,’ we’re fast getting to the point of being a nation full of interchangeable lumps of protoplasm whose only goals are to work only as hard as they absolutely have to for survival while endlessly questing after that next new sensation to titillate their jaded palates.
This has been going on for so long that we now have multiple generations of human beings who have never learned the intrinsic value of learning for its own sake, or of doing quality work for the satisfaction of a job well done. They’ve never discovered how or why having a lower time preference for the important things in life is almost always more rewarding than always demanding instant gratification for everything; genuinely good things take effort, care, resources, and surprise, surprise…time to obtain. Most of the stories I mentioned concerning a concerned relative getting a youngster’s attention with a cuff to the back of their head or a smack to their posterior are reminiscences from long ago because of this. Nowadays Grandpa is as likely to be just as lackluster and as lazy as Junior is.
I really can’t blame popular culture for its actions (at least as far as so-called ‘entertainment’ goes); entertainment is a function of the market and while there are many independent providers of entertainment aimed at those with a functional IQ above room temperature, the vast majority must cater to the demands of the consumer in order to survive. If the majority of consumers demand mindless pablum or pure sensory entertainment, that’s exactly what they’ll get, regardless of the depths of cruelty, mortification or glitzy celebration of mediocre banality such products reach.
I just shake my head when I hear demands that government ‘do something’ to reduce the amount of this rubbish to protect consumers…from themselves. If the bureaucrats mandate higher quality material it’s usually as bad or even worse than the privately produced prolefeed, it’s just blander and more tasteless than the former to avoid being ‘offensive’ and almost always includes large amounts of self-aggrandizing material celebrating the presumed godlike qualities of the centralized and increasingly omnipresent State, which consumers are constantly urged to worship.
If people want quality entertainment, they must first decide for themselves what quality entertainment is. They can then demand it from the creators, who will be happy to deliver. People will freely choose what they want to watch and avoid that which they don’t…and the market will respond, since delivering the product people want will profit them, while failure to do so will lose them that profit. Is all this likely to happen soon? Nope, not as long as people are willing to keep shoveling down mindless swill.
The public will also need to shake themselves out of the hypnotic trance that they’ve been conditioned to and recognize that running to Mommy Government won’t help.
It never helps…at most it can give the illusion of helping. Government is in the business of extracting revenues (since it has no resources other than what it takes from other people), maintaining the illusion that it is all-powerful, all-knowing, beneficent and capable of providing every need of every person so they don’t have to take the responsibility themselves, all while jealously guarding its monopoly on force to perpetuate its unaccountability and power to coerce anyone who dares step out of line or challenge its assumed authority. There are well-meaning and decent people within government, to be sure, but even if every one of them spread that goodwill around as much as they were able, they can never overcome the fact that the machine they work for is fundamentally designed and has been adjusted every year to be at cross purposes to those good intentions of theirs.
Anyone remember Lily Tomlin’s character Ernestine from the old Laugh-In TV show? She summed up the situation best: “We’re the phone company. We don’t care…we don’t have to.”
Speaking of monopolies, you can’t expect any help from the public schools in encouraging young people to think independently. As I mentioned earlier, the education brass have their own playbook and their own agenda, and have deliberately constructed a system of public schools that are fundamentally indoctrination centers for ensuring conformity, squashing creative thinking, and accustoming young people to the prison/institutional life.
This is a cynically planned system whose origins trace back to the early 19th century, when the authoritarian Prussian regime developed a uniform public education system. later furthered by Otto von Bismarck, and brought to the US in the early 20th century by proponents of the Progessive movement. Names like Horace Mann and John Dewey figure prominently in the Progressives’ relentless push to institutionalize the system here, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
In the simplest terms possible, this system is designed to turn out good little worker bees who will produce tirelessly for the collective, but never question their predetermined role or rock the boat. The majority are so well indoctrinated that they will fiercely defend their status as slaves against scary thoughts that threaten to make them aware of it. This indoctrinated belief is demonstrated brilliantly in the 1999 film, The Matrix, incidentally, which is why I strongly believe that it’s far more than just an entertaining science fiction action film, it’s important in its own right as an allegory of this phenomenon.
To be honest, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about this subject, I’m a pilot and instructor, not an academic. Still, I’ve read enough about it over the years, from so many vectors, that I’ve been throughly convinced of its validity for a long time. If this interests you, you’re better served by doing your own research to learn about it, and I can’t think of a better place to start than the writings of John Taylor Gatto.
Gatto was deeply involved in the public education system for many years, reaching his high mark in 1991 when he was named New York State Teacher of the Year, after being named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions…but evidently had a change of heart after all he’d seen, quitting the system in that year and claiming that he was no longer willing to hurt children. Like Major General Smedley Butler of the USMC, who had his own epiphany after many years in that branch of the military…one of 19 people to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions…wrote his famous text War Is a Racket in the early 1930s, Gatto thereafter has devoted his energy to communicating the facts about the system he’d experienced himself. I strongly admire this kind of uncommon integrity, and if you’d like to see what Mr. Gatto’s been up to, visit him here.
Not only do we have a nation rapidly filling with these bored people, they’re almost always incapable of independent and creative thought, as well as lacking in any disciplined form of moral teachings. This is a recipe for disaster on a cataclysmic scale. During the Depression of the 1930s, a great many people were poor, out of work or both, yet the morality of the times mostly prevented them from the kind of the mindless and destructive mobs we’ve seen a huge increase of in recent years. That sort of morality, of any origin, has been derided and marginalized for so many years now that these days we not only see masses of ignorant people, they often seem proud of it. The celebration of ignorance or even stupidity as if it were a virtue is frightening in its scope, along with the showcasing of cruelty, destructiveness, and mortification of others as ‘entertainment.’
People are rapidly losing the ability to communicate anything coherently, not just organized dissenting thoughts that the creators of the Prussian-based education system feared…an unintended consequence, I have no doubt. As they lose their ability to communicate at a level higher than glorified grunts, so too they lose their ability to learn even the skills needed for them to be those productive worker bees that the Progressives wanted so badly. The obvious result will be a consistently falling standard of living for all, which increases the likelihood of more crime, fraud and theft, which in turn is exactly what governments like to see, since they have increasing justification for more and more thuggery and repression.
And round and round it goes, every turn of the wheel giving momentum to the downward spiral of civilization.
That reminds me, hand in hand with the general decay of civilization goes the incivility of people. Simply put, they get ruder, touchier and more contentious every year while expecting to be handed more and more resources produced by other people. This should be a red flag to any honest student of history as yet another indicator of a world in crisis.
Years ago, I read a discussion of this phenomenon in the novel Friday, by the great science fiction writer, philosopher and critic Robert A. Heinlein. In it, two of his characters discuss how to spot a sick culture:
It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn’t the whole population…
Before a revolution can take place, the population must lose faith in both the police and the courts.
High taxation is important and so is inflation of the currency and the ratio of the productive to those on the public payroll. But that’s old hat; everybody knows that a country is on the skids when its income and outgo get out of balance and stay that way – even though there are always endless attempts to wish it way by legislation. But I started looking for little signs and what some call silly-season symptoms.
I want to mention one of the obvious symptoms: Violence. Muggings. Sniping. Arson. Bombing. Terrorism of any sort. Riots of course – but I suspect that little incidents of violence, pecking way at people day after day, damage a culture even more than riots that flare up and then die down…
He goes on to say:
Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms as you have named… But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.
This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health but as proof of his/her strength.
Does all of this sound familiar to you, things you can now see every single day with your own eyes? You might want to reflect on the fact that he wrote these words in 1983…and these problems were bad enough at that point. They’ve had almost thirty years since then to get worse.
There’s no easy fix. The trouble we’re in has taken a long, long time to metastasize and it will take a long time to repair the damage…assuming it’s not too late. I’d like to believe it isn’t.
I suggest that if you want to help begin solving these issues, start small. Forget grand, sweeping schemes; they invariably try to force people to think differently, which never works…and it’s sheer hubris to think it can. We need to persuade people by example, one at a time.
The next time you hear someone complain of boredom, rather than whacking them on the nose with that rolled up newspaper (tempting as it may be in the short term), take a few minutes and talk to them. Try to show them that there’s a whole world out there that they can genuinely profit from…and have a lot of fun with…by learning about it. This won’t be easy, but once you can reverse that slide downwards, learning can be just as self perpetuating as the negative slide toward ignorance, and will build momentum as a person gets more and more satisfaction from doing so.
Convince them to get up and away from the TV and get out TODAY…take a walk, hike a trail, ride a bike, anything to break that stagnation. As an aside, I’ll stress the importance of getting started with these things NOW, not put them off for some indeterminate time in the future. Apart from the hazard that they’ll never get done, there’s always a chance that injury or disease can destroy the ability to do them. Tomorrow might be too late.
Much as I lament the things I can’t do anymore, it’s hard to describe just how glad I am that I did them when I had the chance. One of the saddest things I know is talking with people who became disabled as I did but never got around to doing the things they always meant to do some day… and now they can’t. The longing and regret that radiates from these folks is almost palpable, and can be almost overwhelming in its despair. As much as I’m annoyed or worried whenever I hear someone whine that they’re bored, it must be excruciatingly painful for these people.
I honestly believe that we as individuals can turn things around if we’re willing to have the patience and guts to do it. We really don’t have much choice unless we’re willing to sit by and watch while we’re engulfed by a new Dark Age.