Both Steve and Travis–independently of each other, I think–recently reached the same conclusion: we’ll never be bored again.
Steve writes about what’s available on his iPhone when he’s flying:
It includes a rented movie, three video and audio podcasts, two thousand songs, five Amazon Kindle ebooks, 10 games, 125 unread RSS items in NetNewswire plus dozens of cached articles in Instapaper, the New York Times and WSJ apps. It would literally take me months to go through it all. Plus once I landed my magical pocket computer filled up with even more – emails, tweets, feeds, etc.
Travis, likewise, itemizes what’s on his devices while taking a train to Denali National Park in Alask:
Instead, hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I had to content myself with: On my computer: hours of video: movies and TV shows and Web documentaries. Entire books, downloaded from Amazon. Computer games with shifting maps and dozens of levels. Yes, my battery would run out; there was undoubtedly an outlet on the train for me to recharge. But I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother Why would I, when I also hadÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
My iPhone: thousands of photos, hundreds of songs and a few audiobooks. And of course, offline email, SMS and a phone. Even if you hobble it: no Internet, no phone access, no GPS, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still plenty there to amuse and distract and fill your time.
I’ve been on six flights in the past week, and, like Travis and Steve, I’ve got a box of anti-boredom tools. I previously wrote about FORLORM: fear of lack of reading material. I used to carry an armload of books and magazines to combat the tedium of flights. Now my tools are a mix of the analog and the digital.
My usual regimen is, in order from boarding lounge to landing: read newspaper, complete crossword, read half a magazine, watch an hour of TV on my laptop, review notes (as I’m often flying to or from a speaking event), play games on the iPhone (mostly RSoccer09, a remarkably deep soccer game) then read the other half of the magazine. That’s usually more than enough for any domestic flight.
We are witnessing the death of boredom. On the other hand, we’re in an age of distraction. I don’t necessarily want to get all contemplative on an airplane. But we do need to be aware of the habits we’re forming, and how they might discourage healthy introspection.