Saturday, July 3, 2010

Remember daydreams?

People used to talk about boredom as though it were a thing, not a
mood—a sort of physical object. It "descended" on you. You "escaped"
from it, you "fled" it. Or you "dispelled" it, as though it were a
fog. This wasn't always easy to do; sometimes the boredom was just too
thick, too "heavy." Trapped in the back of a car on a long road trip,
stuck on a flight without a book or magazine, or seated beside a dull
stranger at a formal social gathering, the best you could do to "lift"
the boredom, to muster a bit of leverage against its mass, was to
imagine that you were somewhere else (or perhaps even someone else),
doing something else.

But suddenly, this old-fashioned trick has become unnecessary. Thanks
to Twitter, iPads, BlackBerrys, voice-activated in-dash navigation
systems, and a hundred other technologies that offer distraction
anywhere, anytime, boredom has loosened its grip on us at last—that
once-crushing "weight" has become, for the most part, a memory. Even
the worst blind dates don't bore us now; we're never more than a click
away from freedom, from an instantaneous change of conversation

But what else has been lost? Creativity, just maybe. Because when one
thinks about the matter—though we really have no reason to think about
the matter, or to think about anything since boredom disappeared—the
keypad and the touch screen now do the work that used to be the
business of the daydream. Remember daydreams? No, of course you don't.
How could you? Three new text messages have just arrived and another
three, in a moment, will go out.

Source: Walter Kirn in The Atlantic Monthly