The title of this blog

This article in praise of taking the time for idleness does a good job of articulating some of the reasons behind the title of this blog. I'm very jealous of my idle time - I don't like it when I have things planned in advance night after night, week after week. I want my downtime to just do whatever seems interesting at the time, and I don't function well if I find it necessary to go without it for an extended period.

Being bored and being lazy are widely seen as things to be avoided. However, it all depends on how you look at them.

Boredom is largely a sign of incredible luxury - a time when the world is placing no immediate demands on us, so we have to come up with some means of satisfying our innate desire to be doing something. Being bored means we're not busy obtaining food, or water, or shelter, or defending ourselves (or our food/water/shelter) from attackers, or otherwise pursuing the basic necessities of survival. It's an opportunity to play - maybe to explore (and change!) the world around us, maybe to explore fictional worlds created by others, maybe to create fictional worlds of our own, or to teach others about the real world.

The negative view on being lazy often rests on unstated assumptions (even fears) about the purpose of life: "Make more of yourself!", "Do something with your life!", "Leave your mark on the world!". When you get right down to it though, nobody (and I mean nobody) knows the meaning of life. We don't really know why it's better to get out of bed each morning and face the world - we just choose to believe that life is better than non-life, and engaging with the world is better than ignoring it. We create all sorts of stories we tell ourselves to justify our reasons for rejecting nihilism (to the point of killing each other over our choice of stories), but it ultimately comes down to a decision that the only life we know we have is this one, so we may as well do what can to try and enjoy it while we're here. Once we make that decision, and our basic survival needs are taken care of, everything beyond that point is optional and what we pursue will depend on what we're taught to perceive as valuable.

If you look at the developed world, massive sections of it are aimed at giving people something to do when they're bored because their basic survival needs are taken care of more efficiently than they are by subsistence farming or hunter-gathering. This idle time may be spent creating new things, or consuming those things previously created by others. Some people see efficiency gains as a way to do more work in the same amount of time, but it's equally possible to exploit those gains to do the same amount of work in less time, leaving more time to be idle, and hence bored, and hence looking for other things to do. Is the former choice always better than the latter lazy choice? I don't believe so.

Retreating from the deep philosophical questions and getting back to the more mundane question of the blog title, I do own another domain that redirects to this one, and thus have occasionally tinkered with the idea of rebranding the site as Curious Efficiency. This would put a more traditionally "positive" spin on the concepts of idle investigation and elimination of unnecessary work mentioned in the blurb. However, I find the questions raised by the negative forms more intriguing though, and thus the current title remains. That said, if I ever get around to using my own domain for my primary email address, it will definitely be curiousefficiency rather than boredomandlaziness :)


Comments powered by Disqus