Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Karl Faase wrote in one of his articles about the time he was visiting New York and caught the subway a lot. He sat down and did nothing and just noticed what other passengers were doing. He decided to do a rough survey of what they did to pass the time.
In the carriage of about 30 people, one or two were doing nothing, one or two would be reading a paper, book or magazine. The rest were listening, watching and playing something on their phone or mobile device. Karl said it reminded him of Neil Postman’s famous quote, “We are amusing ourselves to death”.
In other words, why don’t we take time to reflect on the deeper issues of life? We keep ourselves busy and amused if we’re not at work, and miss out on what is going on. Neil Postman also said, “There is nothing wrong with entertainment. As some psychiatrist once put it, we all build castles in the air. The problems come when we try to live in them.” Is it because we want to be entertained all the time, and let others do the thinking for us? I am not saying that technology is bad—no, not at all. But it can rule our lives to such an extent we have no time to stop, be quiet, and reflect on God and his message.
Comedian and actor Woody Allen made this observation: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.“ There is a sense of futility out there, with many saying, What is life all about? Even if I win Lotto I won’t be happy.
What lies underneath boredom
I think many of us get bored easily, and we need that stimulation, or entertainment, to keep our minds active. To have a harmless diversion, hobby, activity or interest—something we refer to as ‘entertainment’ is not necessarily a problem at all. We all need diversions at times. But there is a real problem with boredom today. It seems while we have so much entertainment at our fingertips, we still get bored with life.
One survey I read said that 54 per cent of all Americans go to work primarily to escape the boredom of life at home. And 70 per cent of American teenagers say they are bored with school. The survey also reported that 25 per cent of teenagers said they got drunk on the weekend because they were so bored.
Boredom comes from an excessive self-focus.
Underneath all this is a deeper problem. Boredom comes from an excessive self-focus. Bored people are essentially selfish people who view the universe through their own stunted perspective. To be truthful, you are bored with yourself. The problem is not ‘out there’ somewhere. Look inside if you want the answer. I do not think busyness is the answer to boredom. Busy people are often very bored. They use their busyness to mask their inner emptiness.
One of the best cures for boredom is to get involved in helping others, and to allow God to say something positive to you about your life.
(To be continued in Being Entertained – Part 2)