Bored and Brilliant Challenge

Three questions for you:

1) When was the last time you were bored and alone with your own thoughts? No music, no phone, no television, no books, just you.

I honestly can't think of the last time I took a seat and was just alone with my thoughts. Sure, I think while doing yoga, biking, cooking, in the shower, etc., but that's multitasking, and when I'm coming up with things to write about, I often use the internet for inspiration. What would happen if I just sat down for an hour and let my mind wander?

Just a note, several people I know don't have the luxury of getting bored. They're raising kids, applying to grad school, working two jobs, etc., and I don't want to imply that they are less creative because of it. This is more of an introspective question than a comparison to others.

2) If you have a smartphone, how often do you think you use it?

This is tied to the question of boredom because smartphones are ubiquitous in their ability to distract and divide our attention. WhatsApp, Duolingo, Facebook, Twitter - these my major apps, and I would have more if my phone weren't five years old. Message device, music player, information hub - I use my phone for all of these things (and not a lot of phone calls, to be honest). It goes with me nearly everywhere, but in answering the question above, I instinctively say, "oh I hardly use it," because no one wants to be that person. Perception isn't the most accurate of measures though, and I'm sure I'm biased to think I spend less time on my phone than I do.

A podcast I've been listening to (99% Invisible) mentioned a recent project by New Tech City, a technology podcast based in NYC, called Bored and Brilliant. Bored and Brilliant: The Lost Art of Spacing Out is a challenge-based project that took place over the first week of February, and aimed to address the growing concern and research that shows that while we are more connected and entertained by our smartphones (if you have one, they're not a requirement of human existence), we also feel more dependent on them. All of this is detailed in the first post of the Bored and Brilliant project.

Part of this challenge is installing an app that will track your phone usage to determine how often you're on it. You can even block certain apps from being tracked in the time calculation (I block WhatsApp, for instance, because it's the main form of communication for me with people I care about).

There were six daily challenges that took place back in February, but it's not too late to try it out. For each challenge, there is also an accompanying podcast of about ten minutes in length - all of this is explained in the How It Works page of the challenge.

Which brings me to my final question.

3) If you can't remember the last time you were bored, and you have the time to get bored, would you consider trying the challenge?

I'll be starting the first challenge tomorrow, and I'll write up my experience with the project for Thursday. So if you want to be bored, join me! Some of them won't be that hard - the first and second will be a breeze for me - but some could be your Everest. You won't know until you try.

I'm looking forward to the boredom. See you tomorrow!


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