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THE BOREDOM ISSUE

 

 
Dear Outsiders,

We're all busy, which doesn't mean to say we're not bored.
Boredom and busyness have never been so close. Where does busy end and boredom begin?

Let's go there,

– Jess


Outsider 146

EVERYONE IS BORED

 

Everything is Boring


 
 

We are meant to relish boredom. Indulge in it like the latest luxury treatment. Make time for it. Who has spare time, least alone for being bored? ‘How To Do Nothing’, they say. But aren’t we bored already? Just because we are busy doesn’t mean we are doing anything.

 
 
"We find ourselves suspended between a compulsion to do too much and a wish to do nothing. The distractions of net-surfing are a kind of weird convergence of these impulses. Comparing twenty-three minor variations on a white T-shirt, consuming dozens of viral cat videos or scrolling through metres of social media feeds..."


– Josh Cohen in Not Working (2019)
 





 

WE ARE ALL BORED

We are all bored and everything is boring. Occupied 24/7, doing nothing at all. There is no sight more boring than someone staring at their phone. No gesture more boring than the flick, flick, flick, of a scroll. No panic more boring than patting pockets. No sound more boring than no one talking on the bus.
 

No project more boring than self-realisation. No status more boring than unfinished.
 

No suggestion more boring than ‘be positive’. No belief more boring than work-life balance. No txt more boring than ‘Hey how you?’. No lie more boring than, I’ll reply later. No place more boring than a café looking like an office. No office more boring than one wanting to look like a café. No dilemma more boring than still underpaid. No diagnosis more boring than low-grade burnout. No excuse more boring than ‘can’t sorry I’m busy.’ No emotion more boring than loneliness, by choice. No night more boring than a sleepless one. No worry more boring than that of tomorrow.



 

 





OLD BOREDOM

When I was bored as a kid, I would nag my parents for something to do. That boredom was uncomfortable and irritating. We wanted out ASAP. We would act in an instant to escape it. This new boredom is void of energy. It doesn’t cause us to complain. We’re not annoyed. We just take it and accept it as the contemporary condition. Not interrogating. Not caring.



 








 

A NEW BOREDOM.

WITH NONE OF THE IRRITATION,
AND ALL OF THE
DISCOMFORT.



 




 

 


 




 

Except, we cannot dare say we are bored – so we pretend to be busy.

 

FAKING BUSY

Boredom loves busy because busy masks boredom. “Busy” is allowed, boredom is not. Busy = good. Boredom = bad. Important people are busy. To be busy is to be wanted. “Can’t sorry, I’m sooo busy.” To be bored is to be vacant. Sitting, waiting, wishing. Public vacancy is a risk. Your reputation as a freelancer risks downgrade if you’re not occupied. Your social status as a friend risks decline if you’re easy to make plans with – to be busy is to be popular. Scarcity 101. Parents are proud of busy kids. With busyness as a status symbol, we start to fake it.
 

Too tired to go out. “Not tonight sorry, I’m busy”. Besides, we are told it’s important to make time to do nothing. Stay home, binge-watch a series. ‘Self-care’. Late night scroll. Boring.
 

Work sucks but I can prop up the façade of doing with tactics of busyness. I’ll block my calendar so I appear to be in meetings. Disappearance is key to importance-management (the more important you are, the less you’re around). I finish what I have to do quickly, then use the office printer for my personal projects. Paper doubles as a prop for busyness. Sometimes I send an email late at night to look like I’m really applying myself.

 

THE PERFORMANCE OF OUR LIVES
 

Pretending to be busy is the performance of our lives. We act how we want to come across while we watch from the wings, sat in dull darkness. Sitting in the wings is uneventful. A boring display of ourselves performs before us.





 







 

WE ARE ALL BORED,
AND NOBODY CARES.












 


 
TOO BUSY TO FEEL


We are as numbed by the busyness performance as we are the boredom. The busyness as hypnotic as the boring. Constant ‘doing’ muddles with the always-bored. There are no borders.



 
 
"…distraction provides the only relief from a perpetually incomplete to-do list. Not working becomes at least as tiring and incessant as working."

– Josh Cohen
 



 


Tiring and incessant, or boring? We’re supposed to be fulfilled by work, but work’s no fun. Taking time off doesn’t help, it only invites guilt about not working. A guilt that ‘relaxation’ cannot shake. Friends are another to-do, and let’s not start with family. They will always be there anyway. Romance took a back seat to being ready for an early start. Who am I kidding, I’m not sleeping. I can maintain tasks related to appearance. Physical, and otherwise. Looking good matters. It’s all a matter of looking good.


Life gets linear, flattens out. No peaks or troughs. Just a steady dull hum of uninteresting apprehension. Too tired for action, too wound-up to decompress. I’ll float here somewhere in-between, convincing myself something will happen eventually.



 

 




"We are nervous of pressing the off switch on our machines and minds, as though  fearing the void  that may be made visible.”


– Josh Cohen
 


Exhausted, but bored. Exploited, but grateful. Determined, but distracted. Multi-tasking, but burning out. We know the void. We bounce its two sides. Our lives are the void. It’s where we live. These are the contradictions that form its walls, create the depth we try to fill.

A consciously futile activity. This preoccupation that provides no reprieve but at least denies us of the pain.

 

 

 




Until next time,

Jess
jh@outsider.works


 




 
 







breaking the hypnosis.


what could rupture the monotony of
bored-busy?



a prank. a challenge.
an unexplainable strangeness


anything without reason.

an everyday surrealism.
 






 




 
 


 

we are all bored,
and nobody cares.


 

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
 
Outsider is a counter-culture punch from inside the creative industry.

Promoting real life interaction. Pro-offline.


It came into being after watching client after client come seeking 'relevance' with 'millennials' and crying inside. Seeing misconceptions on the efficacy of social media rise. 

Named Outsider as, like Outsider Art, we observed that no/informal training cultivates greater instinct and disregard for 'rules' and established systems.

    
Jess is a pseudonym to keep the digital footprint of our real identity to zero.

Born 1991 but knowing better than old man CEO's.

Secret Access to past issues here.



 
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