So here I sit in my little bubble of myself. This small room, my university accommodation, is my little capsule wherein everything is geared towards me and no-one else. It is the only space on earth where I permit myself and where I am permitted by others to do absolutely anything I want and use my time however I wish. It’s almost depressing, then, how many of those hours of absolute freedom are spent on timewasters such as YouTube.
I love YouTube. It has replaced television for me – being of a greater variety and greater cohesion to my own interests than mainstream television networks ever could be. But YouTube, like so much of the internet, is a stopgap – a temporary plug in the space of nothingness that fills the inbetweens of our lives when we have nothing to do. Life is as much as battle against boredom as it is against starvation, disease and other basic needs. Even the most downtrodden of impoverished people still look for brief moments of entertainment – perhaps moreso than the overcomfortable minority of the “first world”. YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and, for the more knowledge-thirsty, Wikipedia – they all exist as plugs in the great big gaping hole of boredom that can envelope our lives when we have no direction or goal at that moment. It’s a drug that tricks your brain into thinking it’s doing something when in actuality there’s very little outwardly that can distinguish a bored person from one browsing the internet. Like the channel-surfers of old, the internet is this generation’s timefiller between work and real fun.
This is my third term of university and at Kent they have the near-infuriating practice of not doing anything in that third of a year. This is infuriating threefold as my family are paying for this waste of a term, I’m meant to be revising for exams for which I am receiving no support or even the scantest of information and finally I am bored. So very, very bored.
Which is why I crave adventure. Anything. Even the minor thrill of meeting a new person or going for a walk. Adventure in all its shades is nothing more than the endless fight back against boredom and ennui. Today the first thing I did after breakfast was walk to the library, find a seat left abandoned amongst the rows of bookcases and sit down. The book nearest my face was a brief history of Islam and I spent a happy near-hour flicking through a biography of Mohammad’s achievements and actions. I might have been sitting in a stuffy, ridiculously-warm-for-the-time-of-year library in drizzly south England, true, but I was also standing amidst the merchant-folk of Mecca as I joined Mohammad in considering ‘Uzza, Lat and Manah all those thousand-so years ago. Adventure is as much of the mind as it is of the body. You don’t need to jump off a cliff or wrestle a baboon to have an enriching experience out of life.
There is a wonderful program avaliable for Chrome called StayFocused which allowed you to “blacklist” certain sites and assign a universal time limit which counts down for however long you spend on such sites. I’ve not yet been in a situation where my need to work has been strong enough to warrant sticking to a strict diet of time-wasting internet fodder but more and more these past few days I begin to see a more interesting side to the StayFocused ideology – that of forcing me to ween myself off of the internet as a battleground against boredom and into the ‘real’ world where adventure is as unpredictable as it is enriching. Even if it’s just meeting up with friends or admiring a view – humans are built from the ground up, whether you consider yourself creationist, evolutionist or otherwise, to act and react within a real world and not an online database. If you have fun on the internet you don’t necessarily have fun in real life. So go out there. Turn off the computer screen. Have an adventure.