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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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Embracing boredom stimulates creativity

Waiting in line? Answer your texts. Arrive at the restaurant before your friend? Scroll through some old emails. Many of us often reach for our phones at the first sight of boredom, and our smartphones have completely filled that void.

Think about it, when was the last time you were truly bored?

For most of you, the answer is probably when your phone died or maybe even before you had a smartphone. In my downtime I usually just pull out Two Dots, Disco Zoo or Geometry Dash. When I get tired of those, I just lock and unlock my phone, keeping myself just stimulated enough to cure my boredom.

I wondered just how attached I was to my phone, so I downloaded an app called “Moment”. This app tracks not only how long you use your phone every day, but also how many times you unlock your phone. The results I received after a couple of weeks were appalling.

I was regularly using my phone about an hour and a half a day, and some days I used it a little over two hours. I racked up these totals just by using my phone a couple of minutes at a time all day. I unlocked my phone an average of 50 times daily.

Dr. Sandi Mann held a study at the University of Central Lancashire where participants copied names and numbers out of a telephone book for 15 minutes. Once sufficiently bored, the participants tried to think of as many uses as possible for a household object. The control group was not tormented with the mind-numbing task, but in each trial, the telephone book group came up with a significantly larger number of uses for the household object than the control group.

These findings show that we shouldn’t be searching for a “cure” for boredom; in fact, we should be embracing it.

What are we missing when we’re staring at our phones in an elevator? Nothing, absolutely nothing, and it is in this nothingness where ideas are born and old ideas are further developed.

This isn’t a lecture about how technology is bad and that we should all stop using it. It’s 2015, I’m going to check Facebook and you’re going to check Facebook. Get over it. However, this is a lecture on mindful usage and the habit that technology use has become.

The best thing I did to increase mindful usage after learning about how often I use my phone was putting my phone in my pocket whenever I was walking to class or going anywhere. At first I desperately wanted to use my phone during those nine minutes, but then I realized that I didn’t need it.

Next time, try putting your phone in your pocket and take that time to just be alone with your thoughts. Stop mindlessly using your phone. Bring back the boredom.

Check out this video further showing the issue of excessive phone usage:

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