I Hope This Will Bore You (And Frankly, I Like My Chances)

By Jack Canfora

The president of Netflix (I didn’t even know they had a president; I thought they were a constitutional monarchy) once said, “Our competition isn’t the other streaming platforms; our competition is sleep.” Which, when I read that, really crystallized for me something about how we live. So many of us have become so addicted to being entertained at every moment, that we are often happy to forego even basic biological needs just cram a little more into our days.

Gen Xers such as myself often say things like, “Thank God there wasn’t (insert social media platform) when I was a kid. I wouldn’t want those years permanently documented.” And that’s true. But let me add yet another drawback to our constantly cyber-synched culture: it has deprived us of the right to be bored. We have too many options. We quite literally have almost everything ever written, composed, painted, performed, or sung about in human history at our finger tips, often for free. Of course, most of us opt for videos of different species of animals cuddling, but that’s another post. There is no silence anymore. Nowhere to sit alone with your thoughts, or lack thereof,

I mean, of course that’s not really true: it’s just that it’s asking too much of most of us to ever opt for that when we can get the immediate payoff of watching or listening, or watching AND listening, to whatever our whims lead us. The final nail in the coffin (incidentally, a serious question: do coffins even have nails anymore?) of the chance to be bored occurred 2007-ish, when the iPhone was thrust upon us. Let me take a moment to own up to my hypocrisy: you can have my iPhone when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Well, you probably wouldn’t have to go that far; I tend to give up pretty easily. But I’d put up a fight is all I’m saying.

they did an experiment not too long ago (I’m not sure of the antecedent to that pronoun “they,” and I’m too lazy to do the you the basic courtesy of looking it up. Let’s just say the “they” in question are probably the type of people who like to perform experiments rather than, say, the 1973 Kansas City Royals). They asked college students to give over all their electronic devices and sit alone in a room for 20 minutes with nothing in it, save a prod that, when applied, would give you a mildly painful shock. And you couldn’t fall asleep. And you know what happened? The average subject began jabbing themselves with the prod at about the ten minute mark.

I mean.

This is how aggressively the modern world has pulverized our capacity for interiority. How incapable of sitting in quiet contemplation have we become that we’d have arrived at such a place? How, I ask you, then, can we be surprised at our geometrically escalating rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide? It doesn’t get much lonelier than then when even you won’t spend any time with yourself. Spinoza famously said (I think it was Spinoza; it may have been Stanley Kowalski, but he’s fictional, so I doubt it. Plus, it doesn’t strike me as something he’d say) that all of humanity’s troubles comes from our inability to sit quietly in a room. But the thing is, many of us are content, thrilled, even, incapable of almost anything else, in fact, of sitting alone quietly as long s we have wi-fi.

I wish I could end this on an optimistic note, like, say, C#. But the truth is being addicted to being addicted to things is, to quote a song from the 80s that may well be the nadir of not only songwriting, but post-World War II civilization, a hard habit to break. But I guess it is possible. And the rewards, I suspect will be well worth the effort. I’m certainly going to give it a go. In fact, I think I’m going to tweet about it right now.

In act of hypocrisy so brazen even I feel ashamed of, follow me on instagram and Twitter @jackcanfora

13 thoughts on “I Hope This Will Bore You (And Frankly, I Like My Chances)

  1. I am also Gen X and I don’t understand how we could live without the Internet! But you are right, we lost contact to our interiority. And yes, I am addicted even though not as much as my son who is 21. He wakes up and he has his i-Phone in his hands as first thing in the morning. It is as if he would have a prolongation on one of his hand, or a third hand!

  2. If C-sharp is optimistic, what do we then call D-flat? A good post, and I agree: many can’t simply sit in peace. I like a input-free environment often. I have busyness built into my brain.

  3. An incredibly funny, well-written and thought-provoking post, Jack Canfora! Capped by what has to be about the best ending ever.

    I’m not sure if I should be putting aside my computer right now instead of writing back to you to continue the disturbing trend or even if I should admit that I do follow you on Instagram. But those things aside, point well taken!

  4. Dang that electric prod study is a pretty damning indictment isn’t it? I too have been forgoing sleep. I have set a goal on my phone so I can gradually lessen my phone usage. I notice I am not as creative and my vocabulary has shrunk the more I use my phone.

  5. You’re right. We are a society of constant chaos. What is so sad about this condition is it is something we’ve created, ourselves. The placidness is still there for us to take advantage of, yet, we’ve become addicted to the pandemonium.

  6. I had this thought just yesterday. The Boomers, of which I am one, are the end of an evolutionary step. Why? Well, as kids we were physical except when reading or maybe playing an instrument. Otherwise, we were in the woods, the field or the playground doing something. Even those that were not good at it were put up with (second base in baseball, last on the trail in the woods).
    Collectively, in the US anyway, we are the illustration of moving from earning a living by physical labor to earning a living by mental behavior. I know that is a lot to consume, and I am way to lazy to type it all out.
    If you look at human evolution, this step, perhaps when put in context in 400 years from now if we survive that long, will be clear as day to those “Data Digesters” (TM) who bother to write a “paper” about it.

  7. Look up info on hertz vibrations, because everything vibrates. Everything and everyone to some degree. And because of that I started driving home from work in silence, because I found when trying to go to sleep that my head was vibrating. I was hearing something that wasn’t there. I thought my husband had his earbuds up loud where I could hear his program, but the ‘noise’ I heard wasn’t the same. Since I’ve started cutting down on as much noise in my own life, I’m not experiencing the noise at night when all is quiet. I think I’m vibrating at a more acceptable rate.

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