With the countless ways that we can entertain ourselves today, it’s almost impossible to be bored. In that sense, I truly believe we’re missing out on a core human experience. I think back to childhood where boredom often led to some new imaginative game, which would entertain me for hours and stimulate my imagination. Now instead, I mindlessly surf the web staving off boredom with a thin layer of entertainment.
In the spirit of trying to reclaim boredom, I’ve taken to doing technology fasts (a modified version of Dopammine fasts). The way I implement it is I’ll take one day out of the week, typically a Sunday, where I’ll lock up all my electronics and spend the day free of digital stimulation. During these fasts, I’ll typically be reading a book, meditating, going for a walk, or writing. But often, especially in the first few technology fasts, I would sit in complete boredom. Out of this boredom, however, inevitably raises some new thought, idea or desire that I previously didn’t have time to investigate because I’d always fill the empty space with the bottomless pool of entertainment found on the internet. After doing these fasts for some time, here are the three main benefits that I got from them:
In most cases when you do a technology fast, you’ll naturally be forced to confront the present moment. Without Twitter, or Netflix to take your attention away, all that’s left is your present reality. Countless studies have shown the efficacy of a mindfulness practice in improving a general sense of well being. So what better time to practice mindfulness than during a technology fast.
When you’re constantly ping-ponging between notifications and different content, it can be difficult to focus for long periods of time. Anecdotally I feel like my ability to sit and focus has degraded over time since I got a smart phone, and during my technology fasts I noticed being able to focus for longer periods of time on things like reading or writing.
If you sat for an hour with only your thoughts, what would come up? What would you be concerned with, where would your mind wander? I would argue that it’s during these moments that you truly begin to gain deeper self knowledge of yourself.
Technology is truly amazing, and it has revolutionized the way we live. Yet at the same time, it can be a double edged sword, which is why I encourage everyone to try out a technology fast at least once, to see if it leads to any improvements in their lives.