I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore

Excerpt from this article:

I did not know what to type into the address bar of my browser. I stared at the cursor. Eventually, I typed “nytimes.com” and hit enter. Like a freaking dad. The entire world of the internet, one that used to boast so many ways to waste time, and here I was, reading the news. It was even worse than working.

This world — of blogs and forums and weird personal sites and early, college-era Facebook — was made for dicking around. After college, when I had a real job, with health insurance and a Keurig machine, I would read blogs, funny people talking about nothing in particular with no goal besides being entertaining for a three- to eight-minute block. These were evolutions of the Seanbaby type of writers. Their websites were comparatively elegant, set up for ease of reading. Gawker, Videogum, the Awl, the A.V. Club, Wonkette, various blogs even less commercial than those. There was one that just made fun of Saved by the Bell episodes. I never even watched Saved by the Bell, but I loved that one.

And then, one day, I think in 2013, Twitter and Facebook were not really very fun anymore. And worse, the fun things they had supplanted were never coming back. Forums were depopulated; blogs were shut down. Twitter, one agent of their death, became completely worthless: a water-drop-torture feed of performative outrage, self-promotion, and discussion of Twitter itself. Facebook had become, well … you’ve been on Facebook.

Be Bored, I Dare You…

Excerpt from this article:

Today, in our cult of productivity, boredom is often viewed as utterly inexcusable — a sin — only committed by the lazy or unsuccessful. Yet it is a vital emotion that helps you cultivate creativity, contemplation, and stillness. It is essential for the mind to be bored.

A couple of weeks back I deleted several apps from my phone: Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Facebook, among others, in an attempt to force myself to be bored. I’m trying to let go of the things that I would usually use to ‘fill the space.’ I want to learn to be okay with just being.

Here is the list of things I let go of to find more boredom in the everyday

Throw away your earbuds, boredom is good

'Boredom has its benefits' illustration by Anthony Russo

Illustration by Anthony Russo / For The Times

Excerpt from this article:

Earbuds are like underwear: It’s safe to assume that almost everyone’s got a pair on them at all times… For 10 years, I rarely left the house without queuing up something to play. Then, one afternoon in October, I went for a run and forgot my headphones. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d exercised without a constant stream of stimulation, a cranium full of sound. Nevertheless I continued. After 15 minutes, I started paying more attention to the trail. My mind shifted to daydreams. Soon I was actually enjoying myself. What happened?

Boredom is understood as that frustrating experience of wanting but being unable to engage in satisfying activity. But it’s an extremely short-lived emotion, and perfect for airports, sidewalks, afternoons in the woods. Maybe two minutes pass before I’ve found something worthy of note. “Boredom becomes worse when a situation seems valueless,” wrote Peter Toohey in his book “Boredom: A Lively History.” In my experience, embracing boredom makes the world seem all the more appealing.

My wife and I used to live in New York City. When we finally left it felt like the day was suddenly an extra hour long. Quitting headphones is similar. I daydream more. I have more ideas — mostly dumb ideas, but the volume’s increased. I’ll be grocery shopping empty-headed, and suddenly I’ll figure out a way to resolve the day’s work frustrations.

Something I’ve figured out in my boredom: To be at all smart, I need time to be stupid. Silent time — marked by barking dogs and traffic screeches and the murmurings of neighbors watching old movies. Time that’s reserved to be listless and absent-minded not only reinvigorates my desire in being interested in things, it gives me the energy to be interesting, or at least try.