I am sitting in the Las Vegas airport. That’s already bad enough.
I’ve been informed the flight has been delayed two hours. Finished the two books during the trip. Already scrolled through Twitter, Medium, Instagram, of course.
There’s absolutely nothing to do.
This is the abominable condition of mankind: boredom.
I look around.
Tequila bar. Asian joint. Burger King. Nice.
Coffee, yeah, coffee that’s what I need.
Now, do I actually need coffee in this moment?
Of course I don’t *need* coffee.
But the thing is, I’m so bored. But now that I got this coffee thing on my mind I feel excited. I have something to do! I, Tyler Lingle, have the power to buy!
Let’s get to the basics: none of us really need any of the shit we are buying.
That smoothie? Nope. Your seventh pair of shoes — it’s really probably more than that. Nope. Your massive suburban house? Not needed.
It’s really a good question if you have the ability to think about it for a second. Why do we buy all of this crap?
Boredom and Consumerism
Remember the last time you were bored with your friends. Back in college, sitting around wondering what to do.
I’d make a bet that you probably ended up going to get food. Taco bell runs. Late-night Steak & Shake. Ice cream. Drinks. You bought something when you really weren’t that hungry or thirsty.
In fact, the fact that you weren’t hungry or thirsty was a mute point. You went and bought something out of boredom, not existential need.
I think the reason we continue to make incessant purchases is because we are in a never ending delayed-plane situation in life.
The sad fact is that when man’s basic survival needs are fulfilled he tends to drift towards meaninglessness and depression. We invent new ways to make ourselves feel important (stock market, real estate, reading books, visiting new places).
The main way that we make ourselves feel important is by purchasing obscene amounts of things. The market(ing) economy makes us feel justified. The commercials showing people enjoying a beer with one another illustrate that enjoying purchases with friends is completely normal.
Really, buying things is the easiest and laziest way to feel some sort of existential meaning in the face of boredom.
It’s also a good way to justify slaving away at your 9–5 job. In fact, if you only bought what you really *needed* I guarantee you’d only have to work half as much as you do. But then again, who wants more boredom in their life? This further justifies the 9–5 consumerist trap.
Why are we bored?
In modernity, we don’t have to work to survive. Our food is prepared for us. We communicate with the click of buttons. We distract ourselves with social media. We get in a motored vehicle instead of walking. Because things are done for us, we are bored.
I think some people actually get addictions: alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, fast food on purpose. It gives them a purpose to keep going — albeit incredibly shallow.
Although I am not the best at it, I think we all need to be aware of the forces operating inside of us. It’s like some invisible hand is pushing us forward into cell phone contracts, fast food lines, and crowded bars. There’s nothing else to do, so why not? It’s what I’d call an unconscious choice. You have made the choice to buy things when there’s nothing else to do or prioritize. But you forgot that it was a *choice*. That’s the danger.
There is no enlightening take-away to this post. Being aware of your motivations is take-away enough.
The only way to break the spell of unconscious choice is to become aware. Catch yourself when you go down the rabbit hole of justifying random, senseless purchases. Or when you work more to have more money. Is this the stuff life is made of? Or am I missing something here?
That’s all I got for ya here.
Oh, and by the way, I didn’t end up buying the coffee ;)