Are You Part Of Generation Bored?
# YAWN According to new research two thirds of us are bored with our lives and experts think social media could be to blame
Ever feel like your life is lacking something? That even though you’re surrounded by people, by stimulation, something’s missing and you’re a little bit… bored? Well, you’re not alone. A new study has revealed that two thirds of millennials (18- to 30-year-olds) feel like they’re not exactly satisfied by life. In fact, just four per cent say they never get bored.
The study*, which surveyed 1,000 people, found that millennials are the most bored demographic in Britain, with 27 per cent of people saying they were tired of watching television and 25 per cent even admitting that they were bored while falling asleep. Yep, that’s an actual thing.
It’s something that Gemma Simmons*, a 28-year-old admin assistant from London can relate to. She tells Look: ‘This is a new thing and I’m sure a large part of it is due to social media. We’re constantly seeing a glamourised portrayal of other people’s lives – holidays and exciting bars and parties – and I know that makes me feel boring, which in turn makes me feel bored with my own life.’
Gemma went on to admit that part of the problem is that she feels like she’s entitled to more from life – something a lot of people can probably relate to, right? – and when it doesn’t meet her expectations she’s left feeling a bit ‘meh’. She says: ‘We’ve been told that we can have it all and because of that I’ve always expected to have an exciting job, and a nice flat, and to be going out all the time with a big gang. But actually at my age people are either a bit sorted or in limbo. Half my friends are married and/or buying houses and starting to talk about babies, while the other half can’t afford to do anything but live in a bedsit that’s so far out of London they can’t be bothered to go out and no one can be arsed to visit them.’
Life coach Sarah Alexander says that the boredom epidemic has started to affect her clients. ‘This is a trend that I’ve noticed. And I believe that the constant use of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, smart TVS etc means that stimulation of certain areas of our brains is now available to us 24/7. We’re bombarded by announcements that a text has come in, someone’s posted on Facebook/twitter or an email has arrived. This means that the novelty-craving part of our brains (the prefrontal cortex) feels rewarded. When we answer these messages, the brain releases dopamine (the feelgood hormone), which we also naturally, instinctively want more of. And it’s dopamine that feeds addictions! So without this mental stimulation, going out seems boring, work seems dull and routine tasks feel mundane.’
Sarah concludes: ‘I believe that technology has just given us another addiction to crave and we get withdrawal symptoms (boredom) when we don’t have it.’
Blogger Yasmin Harisha, 21, says the problem affects her friendship group: ‘There always seems to be something better round the corner and we know it.’ And Hattie Jamieson, 21, currently unemployed, agrees. She says: ‘Everyone sets high expectations of everything now. You can see when someone gets a fantastic job, or they’re travelling to amazing places. It’s almost like a competition of who can post the best things.’ Pretty easy to see how you could end up feeling unhappy with your lot, eh?
So what can we do about it? Well, Sarah has some pretty handy advice. ‘Shift your focus onto something positive and keep it there. This allows the boredom to pass away,’ she explains. ‘You have to recognise that while there’s a part of you that feels bored, there’s also a part of you that feels happy and content. We call this part “awareness”. Notice this content part, understand how it feels and let its positive energy cancel out the boredom. In the longer term, try to cut down on the stimulation of technology: don’t use technology after a certain time at night. Have specific times of day to use it and then turn it off if possible. The more we can stop the instant gratification of technology, the more we’re able to find a better balance within the brain and its neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Recognise technology’s addictive quality and do not respond to the desire to open every message immediately, to read every Facebook post or to check emails constantly.’
For Gemma, switching off helps. ‘I read a lot, which helps me to stop getting bored. There’s always the temptation to turn to social media or the television but I think that it can become a vicious cycle when it comes to boredom.’
Basically, it sounds like it’s time to turn off those smart phones, and start living a little, guys – ah, go on!