Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning that made me laugh out loud and motivated me to write my first blog post in nearly three years.
He argues that technology has allowed us to completely remove boredom from our lives and that the result is a loss of creativity.
My period of greatest creative output was during my corporate years, when every meeting felt like a play date with coma patients. I would sit in long meetings, pretending to pay attention while writing computer code in my mind and imagining the anatomically inspired nicknames I would assign to my boss after I won the lottery.
Years later, when "Dilbert" was in thousands of newspapers, people often asked me if I ever imagined being so lucky. I usually said no, because that's the answer people expected. The truth is that I imagined every bit of good fortune that has come my way. But in my imagination I also invented a belt that would allow me to fly and had special permission from Congress to urinate like a bird wherever I wanted. I wake up every morning disappointed that I have to wear pants and walk. Imagination has a way of breeding disappointment.
Lately I've started worrying that I'm not getting enough boredom in my life. If I'm watching TV, I can fast-forward through commercials. If I'm standing in line at the store, I can check email or play "Angry Birds." When I run on the treadmill, I listen to my iPod while reading the closed captions on the TV. I've eliminated boredom from my life.
Later in the article, Adams reflects on the lack of creative material in current books, movies, etc. and suggests that this may be a result of the lack of boredom in the lives of authors, producers, etc.
The article hit home with me (I'm certainly guilty of pulling out the iPhone in the grocery line.) and is causing me to reflect on the value of bringing some boredom back into my life.