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Being Bored Is Good (thewalrus.ca)
620 points by apollinaire 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 217 comments





If it weren't for the crushing boredom of the suburbs when I was a child, I might not have learned how to program computers. I would never have thought so much about spaceships. The original Star Wars trilogy wouldn't have been nearly as cool to discover.

I also play traditional music, though boredom wasn't part of my discovering that. However, silence was a big part of traditional music, in the past. You need empty space if you're going to approach something with a fresh, receptive mind and heart. When something is so common that it becomes an ubiquitous commodity, we tend to tune it out and become desensitized. It's this way for all kinds of culture and media. If you're not familiar enough with the really great parts of traditional musics, then think of media around sex. Or, for that matter, video games.

The transition from boredom to fascination to determination has been a start of many significant parts of my life.


Totally! I think what’s really important is having space to think. Stimulation seems to stopper the possibility of deep-thought. Having significant, radical, perhaps discomforting thoughts becomes impossible when we’re constantly aborting our opportunity to think by filling our lives with distractions. It’s an activity which really does require absence—séquestration and quiet space. I try to set aside time each day for thinking. Often I don’t wind up thinking anything very interesting, but these brief quiet periods have an overall effect of making me feel sharper and more attuned to the world around me. When I’m constantly bombarded by stimulants I begin to feel like a meat-dummy. A buzzing uselessness. A corpse doll. The ubiquitous, incessant access to entertainment, and even to knowledge, that we enjoy today can be far more harmful than helpful.

I can suggest to give Future Shock (1970, Alvin Toffler) a go, it too has some thoughts about the effects of over-stimulation. Good thinking :)

Interesting! How do you deal with devices during that time?

Modern music is a mirror image of the internet culture as well. Blasted with as many synth hooks and processed vocal melodies as possible. I was recently turned onto this band called Wand. If you want to feel some delicious space in a song, check out Scarecrow by Wand. The video is amazingly simple too.

The constant bombardment of shit is so real though. I want to spend time with my wife and kid. Sometimes it's hard to focus though. Everywhere you look in public there is something flashing to get your attention. Thankfully we _are_ able to turn things off for a while and just be with each other.


"Modern music is a mirror image of the internet culture as well. Blasted with as many synth hooks and processed vocal melodies as possible"

I don't know if that's entirely fair- orchestras have always been quite overwhelming to the senses, as have choirs and organs, IMO. Swing dance music is also quite fast and filled.

Similarly, in my music spheres, minimalism is quite familiar- popular music "unplugged" has made a large comeback.


I don't know if that's entirely fair- orchestras have always been quite overwhelming to the senses, as have choirs and organs, IMO.

But those were rare, special events which people went to a lot of trouble to attend. Between those orchestral performances, people had to make their own music. Contrast that with today, when orchestral music can be background noise somewhere, accorded no special value.


So that's more to do with availability rather than the style OP originally posited.

Random rec but first listening to this song I got a Dawn of Midi vibe. You should check them out - their album is basically one continuous song so you can't really sample a single track and get a feel for how everything is just a single flow. Just start Dysnomia on track 1 and let it go.

Could you point out where in the song you hear space? I was interpreting the conversation's use of space to mean silence. Do you mean space in the auditory spectrum, but not in the time spectrum? Meaning, this song is less crowded instrumentally than a house/edm song (auditory spectrum), but does not create space in the time spectrum, say like a Mozart sonata does?

Thanks for the heads up on Wand, just given them a listen and definitely some lovely music to get into a zone.

> If you want to feel some delicious space in a song, check out Scarecrow by Wand.

another good one:

PUSCIFER - Momma Sed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR3ccmWmLhk


Wand is great. Thought their latest album was from a different band because it's so different than the random freebie I got from my local record store (their Golem record, it was bent)

Pink Floyd is also a band using a lot of "whitespace" as I usually call it (design infused I guess). In my opinion few people using silence in solos as good as Gilmour.

> Scarecrow by Wand

Wow, that is so not what I was expecting from your description.

For "space in a song" I was thinking something more like "Brothers in Arms" or "Comfortably Numb".


+1 for Wand, been following them for a while. Their music has evolved quite a bit from earlier albums but they are still one of my favorites.

I really like this:

> However, silence was a big part of traditional music, in the past.

A glass is useful because of its empty space. You need the emptiness to fill it up with something. For inventions/ideas/startups, you need some empty space in your mind.

Think of a bored computer (one that is not used to its maximum capacity). It's like a computer that uses swap memory v.s. one that has a few GBs of free RAM. Which one would you rather use?

I say, it is good to be bored and stay bored -- don't rush to fill up the empty space.


> Think of a bored computer (one that is not used to its maximum capacity). It's like a computer that uses swap memory v.s. one that has a few GBs of free RAM. Which one would you rather use?

A bored computer would just be one that idles more than it schedules work. Memory is not a good anthropomorphism to boredom. Why? Because swap memory can be beneficial to systems even if RAM is un-exhausted, and a system that has a few GBs of free RAM is a newly booted, or a poorly cached system, the extra ram is just unused extra resources -- untouched. Maybe, the system can be bored waiting for IO, but again this is stalled CPU cycles. The glass analogy would fit better to annotate the memory system architecture itself as the glass, a rigid and crafted system, and the water as the actual physical pages, the actual dynamic data that flows through.


Like the Tao Te Ching passage:

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;

It is the centre hole that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;

It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;

Usefulness from what is not there.


I find this passage resonates most when drawn against my living relationship with the rest of the text.

As for the thread, a very straightforward quote:

~

So the unwanting soul

sees what's hidden,

and the ever-wanting soul

sees only what it wants.


That's how Neil Gaiman writes, he gets bored. He gets most of his ideas from boredom. And when he needs to write, he sits down and lets himself only do two things. Write, or look out the window.

In purely audio terms, dynamic range plays a huge part in this. Modern mastering has turned everything into one loud block, there's no room for anything to breathe.

In music, I always found it interesting that it was "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that ushered in a pop music revolution - as it had "quiet-loud-quiet" dynamic.


I grew up in a small city, not really a suburb, and had friends and plenty of daily distractions.

When I was going out to play I would then come back with my whole body hurting from how much I ran. Not even sure how to describe that pain, because I can no longer feel it, in spite of me working out. It was this intense visceral pain, literally I could feel my organs tired and yet I was euphoric.

And I'm not sure how it was in the US in the eightees and nineties, but in my Eastern European country we grew up without much baby sitting, as our parents were busy and there was no such thing as an "after school", so we were either doing homework or we were outside to play unsupervised.

In other words I had a childhood full of distractions and yet I learned programming just fine, from shitty resources gathered from internet cafes with poor internet connections.

Got my first computer in '94 and we had plenty of games too, some arguably more fun than what's available today. When I started learning I did so with the desire to create my own games. I think that some people are simply wired with an inclination for such hobbies.

Oh and did I mentioned that we were coming out of communism so we had decades of western movies to catch up on, VHS rentals being a huge phenomenon?

Boredom is overrated.

There's something intrinsically toxic about portable devices of course. But I don't think boredom had anything to do with it.


I urge you to listen to Aggaloch Falling Snow and Limbs. Listen with an open mind. It's very atmospheric. In another genre is Field Divisions Modest Mountains.

Good recommendations! The chants of "we carry death, out of the village" have been stuck in my head ever since I started listening to them!

Absolutely lovely music, but some of their music is more black metal. Not as accessible, but the albums the recommended songs listen to are easy to get into.

Also, for anyone wondering what the hell is going on in the intro to limbs, it's actually an e-bow, this weird magnetic gadget that slowly swells guitars strings. Makes it sound rather orchestral :) I believe either Muse or Radiohead make heavy use of it too.

EDIT: forgot to mention, check out Mogwai! Not that similar, but it's instrumental and great for getting in the zone!


Same here, I learned how to program because I was bored in highschool math and physics classes and realized most of the work was just applying an algorithm to some inputs.

I'm young enough to have had smartphones when I was in highschool... but I really do feel bad for younger kids these days now that their smartphones are so much better and the ecosystem is so much better, I can imagine they almost never have an opportunity to be bored. There really should be some sort of BASIC emulator that comes shipped with smartphones because smartphones don't really easily present an opportunity to start programming even though they're reasonably powerful devices


I'm studying C# with the app SoloLearn for Android

Interesting, are you able to build and run natively on your phone?

Yes they have a compiler

now kids watch twitch.tv in the suburbs

Very well said.

I often have this weird fear that I wont accomplish anything in my life like it is some sort of personal failure.

Meanwhile I'm able to write about game ideas, code them, create some characters and story and background, even though it doesn't lead to anything since it's more of a hobby, but I fail to make it into a job. I love to think, create, try to design little things, and honestly that's the best pleasure I have.

In the end, I don't think I'm really unhappy. Nihilism is a good way to cope with my own reality. I don't think people who fill their time with a job to kill the boredom are doing themselves a favor. The philosophy of contributing to society to gain money, quality holidays and entertainment seems weird to me.

I always wonder: when their week is over, where do people find refuge? Sports, hobbies, entertainment? I just don't understand how people can think about leaving this world without having something that is really their own. How do you live when you're just a consumer? What happens if you lose friends? In my own conception of life, I just don't understand how people can not feel lost if they don't create something that stems from their own selves.


>I always wonder: when their week is over, where do people find refuge? Sports, hobbies, entertainment? I just don't understand how people can think about leaving this world without having something that is really their own. How do you live when you're just a consumer? What happens if you lose friends? In my own conception of life, I just don't understand how people can not feel lost if they don't create something that stems from their own selves.

Everyone reading this will be dead in 90 years. We are stranded on a giant rock spinning through frozen space.

At the end of it all there will be nothing but the heat death of the universe. Nothing and nobody will survive.

There is no larger purpose. There will be nobody alive to remember any good or bad deeds you may do.

Fortunately, you have the choice to either be depressed about it, or try to enjoy as much of it as you can while you can.

I enjoy listening to and producing music and playing sport. Also enjoying nature and peace and quiet. I like nice food and spending time with my partner.

I love my life, except work which to me is an unfortunate necessity. I just try to maximize my enjoyment and that makes me feel alive.


> At the end of it all there will be nothing but the heat death of the universe.

I'm as non-religious as they come, but I often wonder about this. Any time I spend even a little bit of time thinking about this stuff, I always find myself turning to the thought that, if that truly is all there is, then why does anything exist at all? Like, even on the level of energy/matter. My brain just can't get past the logic of, if there truly isn't anything here at the end beyond a dead, near-infinite void, wouldn't it have been cheaper and simpler for literally nothing to ever exist? Why go through the hassle of all this matter creation?

It's just a really stubborn blocker for me. I get sort of stuck there and kind of throw up my arms and get to living as if some of this must matter somehow. I'm not saying it does. But the fact that matter exists, as opposed to there just simply being absolute never-nowhere-nothing, keeps me questioning.


> if that truly is all there is, then why does anything exist at all? (…) wouldn't it have been cheaper and simpler for literally nothing to ever exist? Why go through the hassle of all this matter creation?

This assumes purpose, intent. Yes, it might’ve been more logical to not create anything, but the processes that initiated creation didn’t reason, they didn’t think “what makes more sense”, they happened randomly.

But even it there was an objective behind creation, that might have just as well been “to see what happens”, same way some people keep ant farms just to watch them — doesn’t make the ants’ existence any more meaningful.


For all we know, we live inside a black hole, as far as we understand the matter in the universe and it's size. The size of the observable universe line up with the event horizon of a black hole with the same mass. It may be a coincident.

Or perhaps our universe it all there is, and it doesn't expand infinitely, but will begin a pullback at some point leading to a new big bang.

Or maybe we're just simple 3d beings, and the universe is really multi dimensional. Or even more mind boggling, we're just a simulation.

None of the above explains what is outside, nor does it answer your question. What I'm trying to paint, is that we will probably never know. But we do know that being happy feels good, so just focus on that, because that is the meaning.


>For all we know, we live inside a black hole, as far as we understand the matter in the universe and it's size. The size of the observable universe line up with the event horizon of a black hole with the same mass. It may be a coincident.

Is that true? I thought the whole reason they came up with dark matter was that the universe was expanding faster than the amount of detectable matter inside it would suggest.


That's dark energy. Dark matter would slow down the expansions of the universe, and they came up with that to explain the rotation curves of galaxies: they're flat- all the stars in e.g. the Milky way go around the center in the same amount of time- but that shouldn't be the case going by just the matter we can see. Ergo, dark matter.

Why does everything need a reason?

Nobody really knows enough about what could happen on timescales that large.

We've invented dark matter to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe because we don't have any proof of why that is happening.

One thing is clear to me though, and that is that both Earth and the universe will outlive me.

So no matter what happens to the universe, it's not my problem and I'm back to, "it's my choice whether I just sit here depressed about my imminent demise, or just forget about that which I have no control over and just try to enjoy myself as much as I can".


I think the trick is to reverse your thinking. Looking for answers to existential questions outside ourselves is just a rabbit hole leading to more questions. I'd love to be proven wrong, that would make things a heck of a lot simpler. But this is like the dreamer asking himself where all the dream stuff comes from and why it's there, making up all sorts of theories about the dream universe and dream black holes or even dream gods. I think reality is very similar. You cannot solve problems with the same thinking used to create them.

> I just don't understand how people can not feel lost if they don't create something that stems from their own selves

For a majority of people, their greatest and most satisfying achievement will be their children. Nature doesn’t play around :)


> For a majority of people, their greatest and most satisfying achievement will be their children.

This sentiment is grossly nauseating, to me. Having children is not an achievement. It may be satisfying and fulfilling, but it is in no way an "achievement".

If your greatest contribution to the world is birthing a child, you have failed as a person.


Raising a productive, kind, and compassionate human being is very hard, and very much an achievement. You reduce it uncharitably by claiming it's simply 'birthing.'

> You reduce it uncharitably by claiming it's simply 'birthing.'

Isn't that exactly what it has become? Right now we are struggling with a massive environmental catastrophe, which is largely caused by overconsumption.

One of the best ways to fight that is to simply have fewer consumers [0], yet somehow that's something barely anybody even dares to talk about because we can't take from people the "freedom" to keep birthing more off-spring for no other reason than self-gratification.

It's not like we are a species on the brink of extinction like we direly need those additional bodies. Right now it looks like we are having way too many bodies to actually keep busy with meaningful work, a problem that will only become that much worse as automation makes even more manual jobs redundant.

In that context, I consider this urge to have biological off-spring the epitome of egoism. There's plenty of orphans out there who would be glad to be living in a family that cares. Why not give them a chance instead of adding yet another body to the problem because it has some minor DNA similarities?

Yes, adopting in most countries is a difficult process, I know that, I still think it's the much more responsible choice than insisting on biological offspring.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/want-to-...


It might be controversial to mention, but isn't there an underlying feeling of "us versus them"?

Consider the movie Idiocracy, where the high-IQ couple decided to put off children until they were unable to conceive - contrasted with a trashy man who had dozens of children with many different women.

Do you want the world you live in 20 years from now to be one with people like you or unlike you? Regardless it reduces to people being selfish, but I dont think it's inherently wrong to want to raise children into upstanding citizens.


What are you talking about? Birthrates in developed countries are below replacement rates. If anything, in developed countries, more people should be having more kids.

If you want to decrease the number of consumers, here's what you do: Go to every developing country in the world and speed up its movement aping the western development arc so that it gets more money, suburbia, feminism, etc. Until everyone's miserable, alone, and nobody's having kids, like in Europe, Korea, or Japan.


> What are you talking about? Birthrates in developed countries are below replacement rates. If anything, in developed countries, more people should be having more kids.

I believe that you have to look at that from a global perspective as the climate change also doesn't stop at borders and globally birth rates are still way too high. The proper solution would be to stop trying to keep "foreigners" out of the rich, western countries, so that people from countries with high population growth can migrate to countries with shrinking population. That'd be a win-win situation for everybody.


>I consider this urge to have biological off-spring the epitome of egoism

Lol, I mean, yeah. It is. It's a biological imperative to recreate yourself.


I just feel like I have to come to this poor comment's defense. Yes raising children is hard, but we've been doing it successfully for all of humanity. Our entire evolution has geared us towards having and raising children.

To another responder's comment: "To many, their children are their greatest achievements". True, but a majority of people will not achieve anything great. A kid is like a participation trophy for life.

There's a line between totally dismissing the difficulty of raising children and the holier-than-thou attitude many parents have with regards to their parenting abilities. I do not envy people who have nothing to say about their own passions except their children.


> A kid is like a participation trophy for life.

I think you’re the one in this thread with the holier-than-thou rhetoric. You and the other commenter are the ones trying to minimize the work of childcare. Don’t make like it’s the other way around.


> if your greatest achievement is continuing the specie and leaving a legacy you have failed.

Ah ok.

99.9999% of people's life achievement die with them the second they pass away.

If you don't make it to Bach's level of achievement you'll be forgotten instantly. Enjoy simple things, life is beautiful without setting bs goals, play music, draw, dance, do some woodwork, who cares you'll most likely suck at it compared to the masters, just enjoy the process


> If you don't make it to Bach's level of achievement you'll be forgotten instantly. Enjoy simple things, life is beautiful without setting bs goals, play music, draw, dance, do some woodwork, who cares you'll most likely suck at it compared to the masters, just enjoy the process

My experience has been the complete opposite. There are teachers whose memory I still cherish to this day because of their tender yet firm touch in guiding my growth. That's just one example. People scarred by their parents play out their issues on other people, multiple people are affected in that case. There are many other examples of actions whose repercussions are felt long after the actor's death.


Does it even matter that one gets remembered by a few more centuries (if mankind's lucky) before we destroy ourselves (or ultimately by the Sun boiling the planet) rather than after one's grandchildren or so die?

Depends what the possible futures you're envisioning are. If some crazy hive-mind/brain-upload/matrioshka brain/turn the universe into computronium future happens, what you do now could influence part of the course of that.

I don't get the 'either we destroy ourselves, or the sun explodes'. If we don't destroy ourselves now, there's no way humans just stick around in the solar system till the sun explodes- at one point, some civilisation will invent brain uploading or general AI or something, and then they'll go and eat the Galaxy. It's either that or total extinction. I can't envision a very likely future where humans survive for Billions of years as-is.


Either way, the universe will undergo heat death. So on very long timescales nothing will be left. Also, we don't have "billions" of years on the planet, more like 1 billion tops. Life on Earth is on its final stretch.

Yes, as much as anything matters. Quoting the titular Angel: "if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do".

We ourselves create meaning in our lives, and our doing so is subject to memetics, like most everything else. I would argue that the desire to do acts that affect others and be remembered through them is a pretty clear leader in this memetic race.


> This sentiment is grossly nauseating, to me. Having children is not an achievement.

The GP didn't say “having children”, so even to the extent one agrees with this claim it's a non-sequitur.

> If your greatest contribution to the world is birthing a child, you have failed as a person.

Perhaps. Certainly, if that's your greatest contribution to your child, you've done very little as a parent. But when people say that someone's greatest achievement is their children, they probably don't mean giving just giving birth to (or fathering) them.


Though it may not be an "achievement" (something above average), I would not go as far as to say "you have failed as a person".

Here is another perspective: Having children and providing for them is actually a huge contribution to the society. At the end of the day, we want to keep our knowledge (understanding of the universe, etc) afloat. And the only way to do that is by having children and educating them about it.


Having children is immensely satisfying and fulfilling. It's challenging, time consuming, expensive, and productive. All the accomplishments of humanity stem from having children.

The vast, vast, majority of humanity will never accomplish anything that will rival raising children well. The remainder are those who invent, discover, build, and market those things that let us live and have children better.


>All the accomplishments of humanity stem from having children.

And all the failures.

There's already too many people on this planet for it to be sustainable.


As one who grew up reading sci-fi such as Asimov's, I would strongly hope that we go ahead and colonise the universe soon. There's a lot more space out there. And perhaps eventually we could live in a simulation a-la Greg Egan.

I absolutely agree that not everyone needs to have children. I'd go as far as to say most people don't need to have children. However, how do we go about changing this?

We demand constant growth in the economy which won't play well with a rapidly shrinking population.

That being said, I'd love to promote the idea that your children are not just your responsibility but mine as well. It is such a primitive tribal idea that I find it strange people are offended by it because it is "socialist".

Personally, I am OK with waves of forced mass sterilization but I understand, because human nature, it will be just as poorly implemented as any war draft so I can't promote this idea.


>We demand constant growth in the economy which won't play well with a rapidly shrinking population.

That ridiculous and frankly insane expectation of constant growth is the reason we're in this mess in the first place.

Also, a "rapidly shrinking population" has never happened so who knows what the effects might be.

>Personally, I am OK with waves of forced mass sterilization but I understand, because human nature, it will be just as poorly implemented as any war draft so I can't promote this idea.

I wasn't suggesting either genocide or mass sterilization, but lets not go too far the other way and pat ourselves on the back too hard for simply making more people, and making vapid statements like, "All the accomplishments of humanity stem from having children".

Those billions of accomplishments are rapidly destroying the only planet we have, so clearly on average every extra person is a net negative.

I haven't had children myself so the effects of all those accomplishments won't be my offspring's problem when I'm dead.


Replying to myself because I found this interesting, so someone else might as well:

>We demand constant growth in the economy which won't play well with a rapidly shrinking population.

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/world-population-ch...

Especially interesting/scary is the "World population since 10,000 BCE" chart.

I don't think a rapidly shrinking population is the problem that we are likely to experience.


Look at Japanese, Korean, and European birthrates. Look at the birthrates as a function of how 'developed' a country is. The trend is clear- as countries develop, they die. They stop having kids. Even the US, I'm pretty sure, is below replacement rate- without immigration, their population would be going down. If you want to stop population growth and kill off the human race, do whatever it is Japan, Europe, Korea did to themselves and people will stop having kids.

You might not consider giving birth to a child an achievement (not sure I even agree with you there), but for many people the work they put into raising their children and the ultimate impact that those children have on the world can far exceed the impact of any software project.

However, if that child cures cancer because you provided them with opportunities and assisted them in a way that allowed them to flourish, you have done a tremendous job. I do agree that giving birth being an achievement for people seems sad. It is almost like wining in a medal in a middle school where everyone gets a medal and being proud of it for the rest of your existence.

And what if they cure cancer and you haven't actually given them opportunities or assistance? Or what if they don't cure cancer? Did you not raise them sufficiently well?

Try it. You will fail.

It is way harder (to do it right) than anything you can imagine.


Raising children is the quintessential grinding stone in life. You're right, there's nothing quite like it, and each child is a near-constant reminder that you need to be flexible in order to teach and to learn.

LOL. I would still call it an achievement, just because of the huge amount of work it takes, in multiple domains be they personal, interpersonal, professional and so on. And for some people, parenthood is the thing that spurs them on to achieve in various ways. But I know what you're getting at - it's not a particularly unique achievement, not especially helpful to the planet (understatement), and so on.

Your statement is grossly nauseating to me. Your children are absolutely an achievement a testament to what kind of person you are.

Well, someday when people get old they’ll appreciate having young people to take care of them. Young people who’s value generation pays for their healthcare in retirement. We won’t solve every problem — of our own creation or otherwise — in one generation. Raising thoughtful, compassionate children takes hard work. A lot of people focus on the negatives of children — more population, crying on flights. They don’t consider that those kids will literally be in the pilots seat in 20 years.

> In my own conception of life, I just don't understand how people can not feel lost if they don't create something that stems from their own selves.

Then you must ask why those who have accomplished their dreams (doing what they want) still feel lost. I know many.

The real question is: what can complete the emptiness that I feel?

The answer is simple: Nothing! There is no emptiness -- stop imagining one.

Do what your heart desires, experience life, create stuff, change the world as you wish, but remember, oh my friend, you are not just this!


There is nothing we own and everything we leave behind after death is also temporary. Time changes everything, so why not think of our day as the unit of life that we get in the morning and ends at night? What I accomplish that day is what counts for me.

>I often have this weird fear that I wont accomplish anything in my life like it is some sort of personal failure.

Completing a big project, setting a new weight lifting or running PR only leaves me feeling empty. I've come to realize fulfillment, for me at least, is in the journey; accomplishment is merely a memento.


I have exactly the same feeling. It always felt alien to me people talking about feeling good after finishing some project, unless the thing was so painful that they're glad it's over. What is exciting to me is actually the challenge of the problem-solving.

> Meanwhile I'm able to write about game ideas, code them, create some characters and story and background, even though it doesn't lead to anything since it's more of a hobby, but I fail to make it into a job.

I am feeling sort of stuck in a loop with this, and constantly feel like a failure about it. Part of me thinks I should give up on the idea altogether and I would just be a happier person. But I don't know if I could do that if I were being completely honest with myself. Not that this helps you, just putting it out there :)


I've made steps to make my project happen, I don't know where it will lead, but trying and being serious about things matters to me.

I don't think giving up is a word I would use. I'm thinking about my project in very safe manners so it cannot fail. As long as I'm conservative about my ambitions and as long as the project holds and has something other don't, it is worth pursuing.

In a way I've already abandoned it a million times because I had to do other things. So to be honest, the only way is forward, all I can do is making it. There's nothing to throw away, only things to make.

It's not really giving up, it's trying to forget about a project, but that's just not possible. I don't think I could change my tastes and abilities or have another project to replace this one.

Now if I had something else to do I would pursue it, but in the end, I think I'll always go back to my project.


I recently read Sapiens. The author discussed how the Agriculture Revolution tied humans down into boring and less rewarding agriculture societies. Perhaps after thousands of years running freely in the wild, humans got bored. They needed to find higher callings. This was when religion started.

It seems like humans are now at the same junction. After getting all stuff we need, we are lost again. We have less children for economic reasons in the same way hunters did. Having and raising children is ironically the simplest way to find meaning in life.


> I always wonder: when their week is over, where do people find refuge? Sports, hobbies, entertainment? I just don't understand how people can think about leaving this world without having something that is really their own. How do you live when you're just a consumer? What happens if you lose friends? In my own conception of life, I just don't understand how people can not feel lost if they don't create something that stems from their own selves.

Personally I'm happy to be with myself. I spend most of my idle time reading, talking to my loved ones and reflecting on my days. I'm not sure if I call myself just a consumer because I don't enjoy going out to drink, try new restaurants or purchase things I have no need of.

Regarding what happens if you lose friends. Keeping your friends close to you takes effort. I try to stay in touch with my closest friends and take interest in their lives.

Lastly, I have no desire to leave an imprint on this world as my own creation. What I do desire the most is to create an impact in the lives of people I do care about. So far this impact is limited in sharing my thoughts about philosophy, science and society.


> I often have this weird fear that I wont accomplish anything in my life like it is some sort of personal failure.

It's not a weird fear. It is rooted in the expressive individualism of our age, which strips us of tribal identity and tells us that we can be whoever we make ourselves. Both for better and for worse.

The worse of the latter is that if we do not make anything of ourselves, it is our fault. This is perhaps a little more true today than it was in ages past, but we feel it to be a near-absolute truth where it was barely thought of once.

I feel the same thing. It is neither strange nor unexplainable. It is one of the little-spoken downsides of modernity.


Welcome to the wonderful globalised utopia of 2019 in which shared culture has been deliberately destroyed and genuine, wholesome, worthwhile, spiritually nourishing experiences and a sense of community are replaced with empty consumerism and anomie.

I've tried to get into anomie repeatedly. So many great programmers seem to love it, so I feel like it might help me code better. But I just can't do it. There's so little substance. It's as if the appeal of 99% of anomies is some pathetic, parainfatuatory relationship between the (male) viewer and the (female) characters, and the worldbuilding and story are total afterthoughts. And it's not even like they fully leverage the sexual appeal; it's just endless teasing and beating around the bush. It's very strange.

anomie /ˈanəˌmē/ - noun - lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.

anime /ˈanəˌmā/ - noun - a style of Japanese film and television animation, typically aimed at adults as well as children.


I've just read about anomie, it doesn't seem like it's a bad thing.

I was so bored this past weekend, and it was great. Every year I volunteer to backpack into the desert mountains of Southern California, sit in one spot for 3 full days, and count all of the Bighorn Sheep that I see. There's typically a total of an hour of excitement each day, and the rest is just sitting, staring at a mountainside. No cell reception, no human made structures visible, just two other people there with me. I recommend that everyone find something similar in their own lives.

If I had to sit for 3 days watching the mountains and the occasional sheep passing by, I would probably turn to meditation or continue planning my project in my mind.

Which is precisely why boredom is important. It can lead to some truly creative thoughts.

But if you are meditating or thinking about work, are you bored?

I don't think I've felt bored in decades precisely because I have so many things I like to think about. I'm not sure I could even turn that stuff off to actually feel bored any more.


>if you are meditating or thinking about work, are you bored?

You are doing those things to escape boredom. The idea isn’t to stay in a perpetual state of boredom. The point is to induce boredom, so that it pushes you towards doing things you wouldn’t normally do, in order to escape it.


I suppose if I dedicated enough time to it (like a multi-day silent retreat), boredom would eventually come.

That makes sense. If I just stay bored, I probably start daydreaming and nothing comes of it.

> The point is to induce boredom

Still doesn't sound like a great idea.


Seems to work for a lot of people, including me.

"Inducing boredom" doesn't mean "sit down in your apartment like you normally would, but force yourself to do nothing and get bored just because." I always understood it as "put yourself in an environment with limited options, so that you would feel more encouraged to do something productive/creative that you always wanted to do (but couldn't due to all the outside distraction/overstimulation) in order to escape boredom."


I feel this way too. Maybe I misinterpreted the article but I almost felt guilty for never feeling bored. Even though I'm never bored not out of technological stimulation but rather my own internal mental stimulation. Full of ideas and thoughts and things to think more on or things to discover, areas of life I have not yet given the time to think about.

Humans were built like this. We must spend time going back to our ape surroundings. Give yourself at least an hour to walk through wilderness with no music, no celphone, just walk and take nature in. God is in nature.

I would absolutely love to take a few hours to relax stroll through a remote peaceful strip of nature or land, but the problem is it all either:

- a public park with too many people / other distractions

- and individuals private property

- a corporations private / leased property


Look for "difficult" hiking trails in your area, pretending you're a tourist. Choose one that isn't especially popular and go early in the morning to avoid other people. You're guaranteed a trail, the right to walk there, and some exercise.

I highly recommend this episode of the art of manliness podcast if you like that kind of things:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/fire-watcher-philip-...


Adding in: read Dharma Bums, which partially involves fire watching.

Or better yet, Desolation Angels, where a solid half of the book is fire watching

“Every year I volunteer to backpack into the desert mountains of Southern California, sit in one spot for 3 full days, and count all of the Bighorn Sheep that I see. “

Where is this if I may ask? And how many sheep do you get to see? I wouldn’t mind doing that and take my camera.


Re: Where is this? -- Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Re: How many sheep -- Depends on your count site; some people see zero, others see upwards of 40.

See this HN comment (from this same thread) for additional info. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20384971


Oh great, I've actually been there and saw two bighorn sheep near the "oasis" that is not too far from the visitor center. It was super hot there, actually (42°C or so?). Probably my most extreme heat exposure ever.

Thanks! I hope they don’t do this in the summer. Pretty hot there.

The best time is the summer; the hotter the better. These sheep can go for weeks without water when it's cool. When it's hot, they need to come to water every 3 days or so. So, when it's hot, we set up shop near the watering holes and wait.

Very interesting and makes sense. I guess the heat is not too bad if you don’t have to move a lot. Is there a lot of action at night? I would probably set up some trail cameras.

And once you can do that, take it to the next level: stare at your apartment wall for 3 days and count the insects, with no other people. That would be hard and true boredom!

Could you share information on where/how to volunteer to do this?

This is a great KPBS piece from 3 years ago. https://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/jul/08/sheep-counting-anza-bo...

This is a great KQED piece from 2 years ago. https://www.kqed.org/news/11550455/volunteers-brave-extremes...

Edit: I'm happy to share and am available for further questions, but for anyone planning to visit the any parts of the Southern California desert during the summer, please please don't plan to go all out on your first visit. Please take a measured approach. For example: an overnight car-camping trip before you attempt a backpacking trip. When you're new to the summer-desert, plan on carrying one-gallon-per-person of water for a hike of any length, even if it's less than a mile; it can save your life if you unexpectedly get heat exhaustion when it's over 115F.

Edit II: To volunteer, e-mail AB.Sheepcount AT parks.ca.gov -- express your interest in the 2020 census and they'll put you on the mailing list. If you'd like more information, reply to this comment and we'll work out how to chat directly.


How do I find more of these sort of events...? I'm in the midwest and would be honored to do something like this.

To be honest, I'm not sure how to find them. I somewhat fell into this one, but the term to search is "citizen science". https://www.citizenscience.gov/catalog has a catalog of Federal events. The one I do is more at the state level. There are also non-profits that often work closely with regional state and national parks.

This is exactly in line with my own experience. I noticed that I had completely stopped thinking deeply and creatively as I used to, and it coincided with my use of social media as a mental "palate-cleanser" at work. I was filling all of my spare moments with the mental equivalent of processed snacks. Once I stopped, my mind returned to filling that void with deep thoughts and creativity.

I really think social media is altering our attention spans and changing our minds, for the worse.


When we constantly consumed with stimulus from social media or non stop feed of news and discussion there is no room for boredom. Boredom is important to the creative process.

I'm not sure that boredom is the right word for what is being described here. Leisure is what we used to call it, and the sense of boredom seems (to me) to emerge as one possible reaction to unencumbered leisure time. When I am on a hike, my mind can be free, but I am not bored.

Certainly agree with the idea that phones create a strong environment for bored distraction. I've been slowly deleting apps where I find myself pointlessly refreshing/checking, but I haven't made it to the next level of completely disengaging and simply sitting and mentally exploring other forms of leisure.


From: http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html

> 3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.

> Hackers (and creative people in general) should never be bored or have to drudge at stupid repetitive work, because when this happens it means they aren't doing what only they can do — solve new problems. This wastefulness hurts everybody. Therefore boredom and drudgery are not just unpleasant but actually evil.

> To behave like a hacker, you have to believe this enough to want to automate away the boring bits as much as possible, not just for yourself but for everybody else (especially other hackers).

> (There is one apparent exception to this. Hackers will sometimes do things that may seem repetitive or boring to an observer as a mind-clearing exercise, or in order to acquire a skill or have some particular kind of experience you can't have otherwise. But this is by choice — nobody who can think should ever be forced into a situation that bores them.)


IMHO, this is just different defininiton of boring, as in "doing this repetitive shit is boring and I would be better off automating it and doing something challenging" vs "being alone with my thoughts rather than consuming delicious Internet information is so boring, let me just mindlessly scroll HN instead".

As a musician, I can tell you that practicing a song (particularly a well known song) is very frustrating partly due to boredom. A practiced musician will know when they’ve reached their limit for the day of learning a song. Muscle memory is much slower than neural memory, and usually requires “sleeping on it”.

Knowing you’ve reached the limit of your current capability is boring because you know the next few practice rounds will be much of the same, with minor improvements that provide a dopamine rush.

Regardless, nothing has changed in the age-old saying of how to get to Carnegie Hall: Practice, Practice, Practice. The practice is the boredom, but without training your muscles and building up myelin sheaths, you’ll never be good enough to automate most of the music to an extent that you can improvise on top of it (the fun part).

I guess my point is akin to OP’s, in that boredom isn’t inherently a bad thing, but a means to an end. Without the boring practice, we wouldn’t have experts/artists...and even then, the practice doesn’t have to solely be boring.


Yup. ESR's opinion and the OP are not mutually exclusive. Avoid boring, repetitive work, but deprive yourself of constant stimulus every once in a while.

Being trapped in a middle of nowhere town that didn't even have sidewalks, combined with the (mis)fortune of having parents that couldn't possibly care less what I spent my time on all gave me everything I have today. Without those thousands of hours on the internet and nothing better to do, I would not be where I am today.

Counterpoints to "being bored made me awesome" that spring to mind immediately:

You would be in a different place, and whether it's better or worse is unknowable.

For every person inspired to greatness (or okayness) by boredom, there is someone driven to drug addiction by boredom.


You'll note that I did not say it made me awesome, nor did I suggest anyone else should do it. In fact, I even added the "(mis)fortune)" to point out the obvious negative aspect to my statement.

I literally just said those factors got me to where I am today. I did not imply where I am now is better than an alternative.


I wonder if being ignored by your parents also made you this hostile?

Personal attacks will get you banned here. Please don't post like this to HN.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> I would not be where I am today

Where are you? Not in prison I hope.


Being bored is great. You're forced to be with your thoughts.

You have the opportunity to work on them. Be it via meditation. Or cognitive behavioral therapy. or whatever.

And if you succeed, you earn a happier mind.


Not everyone can do this but when i get truly bored and have the time and space... Spark up a little doobson and start playing music. Dont think, just play for 30 minutes and hour 2 hours. However these times are much scarcer with a little kid in the house.

Boredom is where I recharge, it’s wonderful and therapeutic. It’s also at that moment where my creativity soars. Engineered engagement is at an all time high and I just need to get away from it all.

I think boredom is a mechanism for novelty seeking, making us take a step back and maybe try a different activity, a necessary part of the exploration-exploitation tradeoff... because we never know what unknown unknowns we're missing. It's good to do what we know will give us rewards, but maybe there are even better rewards we're passing on, so from time to time it's necessary to sacrifice the safe zone and go out.

Interestingly, both curiosity and self-control have been turned into successful reinforcement learning techniques. A RL agent would walk a maze collecting points, but one wall was turned into a TV, so when it found it it stopped exploring and just binged on the video feed. Even RL agents can be addicted to video.


There is also a theory that attention "disorders" are an adaptation or variation in novelty seeking. i.e. some people are just more wired for novelty seeking

Having a population with varied amount of attention seeking seems beneficial for finding the "optimum" for the local environment. Too much novelty seeking and the seekers will all get eaten by bears and starve because they fail to do what is known good. Too little novelty seeking and the known good will rot and be inflexible to changing conditions. (obviously contrived)


This sounds like group selection

Group selection is largely discredited, of course.

But! Richard Dawkin's selfish gene theories go the other way and argue for natural selection working on the gene-level instead of the individual level.

It seems like group selection but it is more like population dynamics and selection pressures for traits in a population. If a gene becomes too prevalent in a population it's advantages become disadvantages and an individual has less chance of surviving. If it is too scarce, an individual has a large advantage and a higher chance of surviving and passing the gene on.

It would be limited to traits where the phenotype results in more successful competition with the same species.


“Few understand that procrastination is our natural defense, letting things take care of themselves and exercise their antifragility; it results from some ecological or naturalistic wisdom, and is not always bad -- at an existential level, it is my body rebelling against its entrapment. It is my soul fighting the Procrustean bed of modernity.”

― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder


A good advice from a friend: if you want to be bored again, read less HN. Good night.

There is definitely too much sensation and information for me these days. When I was a kid and being a natural geek I had so little technical literature in the house that I used to pore over it. I'd read my computer magazines cover to cover until I virtually memorised the whole thing.

These days, I don't even know where to start. It's terrifying! I'm moving to the country soon to get away from the overload.


This is a topic I've been pondering lately. Even looking around the internet for technical information/assistance has become harder due to all of the information that is now out there. How can we find sources or information that are truly meaningful and provide great value, rather than just mediocre or non at all?

I think there could be a real opportunity for a hand-curated search tool that addresses this need.

Are we going back to the Yahoo! days ?

It won't help. The information follows you. Maybe the sensation is a little less, though, which may help. Good luck.

I think the answer is to stick with a few problems rather than trying to consume or know everything.

I'e been programming since the early eighties, and when I was zoned into it, my mom would have to call me 3 times for dinner.

I would tell her I'd be there in two minutes, and to me what felt like two minutes, was really ten in real life.

In those days, this kind of computer time dilation experience was pretty unique, and very few people had access to it.

Now I find it funny to see that all of society seems to be turning into phone zombies.

Although this absorption state is occasionally useful, I've come to dislike it. I feel it takes me away from real life down a rabbit hole.

I much prefer full contact living, and the occasional boredom that comes with it.


So how do you keep yourself from become a "phone zombie"? Have you gone as far as to get rid of your smart phone? That is one thing I've heavily considered, but Spotify, Navigation, and High-quality photos are too hard to pass on.

>how do you keep yourself from become a "phone zombie"?

I install only utility apps, a surf forecast app, a VPN token generator for work, and a few others.

I specifically don't install any social media apps on it.¹

I also use an older phone (iphone 5), and maybe that helps a bit too, since you have to be really motivated to browse the web on it.

1: I don't even have social media accounts, period, but that's another story.


I always love these threads.

"Being bored is good? I'll show you how bored I am! I'm the most bored. Here's an anecdote about how I was the most bored before being the most bored was known to be good. Therefore I really am bored and therefore good. LIKE ME LIKE ME LIKE ME"

You know what? I'm rarely bored, suck it.


Has anyone considered that the ability for people to be easily distracted reveals a weakness in themselves? i.e we all wish we were more bored so we could discover our "true" selves. If you're distracted all the time by twitter or bullshit or whatever, you really only have one person to blame: yourself.

It would definitely be easier for everyone's self image if we weren't exposed to the parts of ourselves that we found weak, or disgusting. Boredom and lack of stimulation easily facilitates this illusion of self control and virtue. But true self knowledge and self-equilibrium result from the understanding of who we exactly are, how we react to different situations. In this way, I think "over"-stimulation is laudable: you never know what is enough until you know what is too much.


Absolutely. I'll totally admit its my fault. But the fact is that 20-30 years ago, even though I had the same personality I have today, with the same weakness, it just wasn't a problem.

A similar situation is with food in America. I'm from another country and had a pretty healthy weight. Then I moved to the US. All the weight again and associated health problems hit me like a truck. I didn't change as a person, but massive amount of ridiculously cheap food everywhere just wasn't (as much) of a problem in my home town, so I was healthy. NOT ANYMORE!


Not to be harsh, but, like, that is your problem. I, for example, used to be addicted to heroin. If opiates had never been discovered, I guess I probably would have never had a problem with it. But that's a weak excuse. I'm glad I was shown my weakness, because now I am stronger for it. Change and distraction and temptation is an opportunity to truly understand our self. And with understanding comes power.

I probably made my point poorly. I'm not saying that things need to change to accommodate me. I'm saying that at a macro scale, it has an impact on people (and likely society) no matter how we look at it, because you can't fix everyone.

If we should do something about it or not is a completely different topic.


Maybe it's a language thing, but I wonder if for the most of human history, people simply weren't bored in the same sense as they are today. Wikipedia's article on boredom seems to suggest the concept only gained traction in the 17th century, while the term 'boring' took off in sync with 19th century industrialization!

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boredom

2: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=bored%2Cboredo...


Makes sense. When you're on the lunch menu for a saber-toothed tiger, your life is anything but boring.

I never saw The Walrus before - great content.

I consider it an aspect of “wealth” to have quiet time for introspection. While I do most of my hiking with friends, I block off long periods of time for introspective, or meditative, walks by myself in the wilderness (I live 150 feet from a trailhead, with lots of nearby wilderness).

I usually enjoy writing but after a recent move back to our home in Arizona, I was suffering from “writer’s block” and the way I broke through that was to toss my laptop in a backpack and walk for 45 minutes to my local library, write, then walk home. Walking 90 minutes might seem boring but this process worked well for me and got me unstuck.


This sounds great and makes a lot of sense, but how do I get bored? Last week I walked the Jurassic Coast alone, and I loved it but I don't think I ever felt bored. If I'm at home I love to read or program and in the mornings I love to go out and run.. No headphones or music or phones, just me and my thoughts, but again I don't really feel bored.

You need to not have anything to do. Just go and lie down in a barely furnished room with no distractions for a while. The boredom will surely come!

This is why a quit weed. Weed makes being bored fun. So all the motivation that being bored typically gives you goes away and you are content to do nothing. However it is healthy to be bored, and you need this push in order to accomplish things

My favorite quote from the article:

> Boredom is, at its simplest, a form of desire turned back upon itself, resulting in the inability to act in any purposeful or happy manner.

> Why can’t I simply want something? Why can’t I simply do something?


Upcoming generations will think of us as the society who was afraid of being bored. The book Deep Work by Cal Newport is a good read on this topic, but I'm sure it isn't the only one. You can find my detailed notes on it here: https://alvaroduran.me/deep-work (any feedback is welcomed!)

Of course! Ancient Romans had a concept called "Otium" [0], which somewhat coincides or at least mostly overlaps with the "being bored" the article refers to.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otium


Once you have spent years not being bored thanks to constant availability to Youtube, Netflix and plethora of scrolling options on phone it becomes really _hard_ to be bored.

A lot of people of my generation actually need Netflix to fall asleep, which I find frankly disturbing. The eyeball economy is an addiction, maybe not as dangerous as other ones, so we just live with it.


"We might think that the addict has it easy: even if they are powerless to solve it, at least they know what their problem is!" Boredom I suppose can be addiction if it can gain profits. Boredom compared to an addiction you dont even realize what is happening. Addicts first step is admitting they are powerless and realizing they have a problem.

All of my best ideas happen when I'm bored. That's why I always keep a Google Keep, or Evernote, or just a notepad, nearby at all times. Sure, most of the time, nothing comes from these little ideas (often due to my own lack of sticktoitiveness), but boredom is undoubtedly a powerful catalyst of creation.

I think Maria Popova from Brainpickings expands on this topic pretty well: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/16/boredom/

I wonder how many scientists, musicians, sport legends wouldn't exist if their world wasn't boring, and if there wasn't just a very limited pool of things to do, allowing them to become specialists on those.

Nowadays, it's pretty hard to get bored as mentioned due to the stimulus economy. Though making my phone's screen turn gray-scale really helps with destimulation.

random thought: Can this be why colder countries are doing better than hotter countries, by being forced to stay at home/shelter during winter periods.

Please define what "doing better" means.

Economically.

Look at Europe, the north does significantly better than the south in most cases. The southern countries in my opinion, have far better quality of life.


I don't think I'll ever feel safe enough again to feel bored. Haven't felt bored since before high school.

Is boredom mutually exclusive to a sense of safety? I'm sure I'd still feel bored even if I was scared the whole time.

This feels kinda like bait to ask what happened, so, what happened?

bored: feeling weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one's current activity.

Somehow i feel people mistake living a peaceful life with living a boring life. if you are bored all the time, that is basically called being depressed. it is not fun and it is not good.


Having a computer in my room without Internet was probably one of the most impactful features of my childhood.

"Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" came on over the radio while reading this.

When I'm bored I get intrusive thoughts. I need to be bored in a way that is distracting.

I condone this message

Leisure is necessary for philosophy.

> Modern music is a mirror image of the internet culture as well. Blasted with as many synth hooks and processed vocal melodies as possible.

This seems a little bit like a fist-shaking "back in my day!" kind of judgemental statement. Music is a matter of taste and what you're approaching here doesn't relate to the topic.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20384256.

The thing that makes it sound so much like a fist-shaking "back in my day" is that it reduces modern music to popular, heavily-promoted, commercially-successful popular music.

There is money to be made out of superficial music, fit for consumption as a background to parties and dance, tailored for the least common denominator in terms of intellect. But that has always been the case; nostalgia aside, the "current" music of pretty much every decade has been pretty bad. Sure, the greatest hits are, well, great. But if you dig a little, you'll find that the songs that were just below the greatest hits in terms of popularity -- but hugely popular nonetheless! -- are pretty bad.

But there are plenty of artists making good music today. And frankly, I think the current situation, where we have things like Bandcamp and Youtube and whatnot is better than ever before. If I'd been a teenager in the 1970s it's extremely unlikely that I'd have heard of bands like, say, Malicorne -- superb music but with success limited to their own country mostly. Nowadays, if there's a great band making great music in Ittoqqortoormiit, there's a good chance you can hear about them and listen to their stuff.


Music has never been better imo. It's just that there is more of it so you have to go looking. If you don't know how to do that or aren't interested enough to invest in it you're going to come to the fist shakers conclusion.

There has been absolutely wonderful music in every single decade, and I dare say every year since recoded music has existed.

I can't help but roll my eyes when people say that 80s music was bad. Sure, popular music was an abomination (when hasn't it?); but even if you searched a bit you would have found great music lurking in the shadows.


Agreed, though I would sooner say the 80s were the only decade where popular music was actually good. :)

I am going to have to back the parent comment about music, having had first hand experience with this.

My son is currently trying to break into the music industry. He is a gifted guitarist and musician [0], but whenever he talks to music producers and execs, he is told that his songwriting is too complex, his songs too long (avg 4 minutes) and his lyrics too deep for the current generation of music buyers (read: teenagers and young girls).

He is being told repeatedly by the people who make the decisions that he needs to reduce his songs to a basic beat with a couple of good hooks and not much more than that (apart from adding some eletronica). These are the people who fund albums and promotions these days. This is their criteria. From the horses mouth.

[0] - https://instagram.com/jordanravimusic


>These are the people who fund albums and promotions these days. This is their criteria. From the horses mouth.

And VCs want you to make food delivery or photo sharing apps, because it makes them money. And yet, I can look out my window and see an artisanal bakery and craft store.

Is your son's goal to become a rich, pop star, or to play his music for a living? If it's the former, then I guess he should listen to the people who produce the pop stars. If it's the latter, there are more channels for doing so than ever in history.


> the people who make the decisions

Those people mostly focus on finding songs that can reach a billion streams. They are like the VCs looking for the next Google, they don't care about the specialty boutique.

Maybe your son should try to find his '1000 true fans', instead of trying to win the gatekeeper lottery.


> lyrics too deep for the current generation of music buyers (read: teenagers and young girls). ... he needs to reduce his songs to a basic beat with a couple of good hooks and not much more than that

This has been true to some extent since the dawn of popular music after the war, though? Stock Aitken & Waterman were slapping synth beats on simple lyrics probably before your son was born. They wrote Kylie's "I should be so lucky" in an afternoon after being told she was at the airport and they'd forgotten she was coming. Went on to sell a million records.

You can appeal to sophisticated tastes or the mass market, but the latter is very definitely a product which lots of specialists are continually trying to optimise.


He should stop talking to music producers and execs and start playing shows, releasing music independently and hustling to get his image out in the world. The era of "breaking in" has been over for decades. Luckily for him it's very possible DIY a music career now, just not one that nets millions of dollars.

[flagged]


> Lastly your kid is not deeper than the other kids lyrically. Get off of your high horse and stop leading your kid towards a path to hell.

Did you deduce that from looking at his Instagram feed that I posted above? A feed that pretty much contains NONE of his original material and only covers of current songs? That you didn't recognise that pretty much shows your total and complete lack of knowledge of the music industry today. You should spend less time at the (computer) keyboard and go listen to more live music.

Lastly, Where did you get the idea I was leading him anywhere? All his choices, I am just reporting what I see when he talks to music execs.


like fashion, it's both a matter of taste, but is also a matter of culture, technology and tools.

Invention of the radio, coupled then with the automobile, supported by advertising during drive time shows, has created a popular genre focused on simple short repetitive themes repeated 3 to 4 times, identifiable and quotable in a few second segments, and with a run time limited typically to 2 to 4 minutes.

As a social researcher, one of the most frustrating things I found was this deep cultural idea that reacts against cultural context and analysis. a lot of people seem deeply offended that ideas of taste might have something to do with external forces or manipulation, time and place in the same way they get offended about the idea that their religion and culture is also largely determined by time and place: yet it's undeniably true...


I think we're talking past each other a little bit here. There's no denying that taste isn't augmented and influenced by "external forces or manipulation" (what, in all of society and culture, isn't?) and current pop is a fairly well-defined genre. I'm agreeing with everything you're saying.

But that has nothing to do with the commenter relating "modern music" to a "constant bombardment of shit" which is what my reply was addressing.


Correction: I meant "There's no denying that taste is augmented..." not isn't but I think you all figured that out by now :)

> Music is a matter of taste

I'm mostly with you with one exception. If there's one thing that may be objectively evolved, it is the power of the raw human singing voice. With all its expressivity, dynamics, range, colours, individualism, and overtones.

I claim that anyone who studies carefully the pure sound of the voice and what it is capable of will always hear synth vocals as superficial. (I don't care genre, whether it's opera, art song, jazz, blues, hip hop or vocal music from any culture).


Another class of instruments that has evolved in all of the ways you named is the synthesizer. Certainly vocal performance is a very old tradition but to write off synth vocals as superficial is in my opinion throwing the baby out with the bath water. Sound synthesis has gone from an experimental and avant-garde playground to one of the most expressive and versatile fields of music composition.

Techniques like additive, FM, and physical modeling synthesis have opened up whole new worlds of musical possibilities to explore. The combination of synths with vocals only widens the expressivity, range, color, and ultimately individualism that voice alone can accomplish. For every autotuned vocal track in bad taste there are just as many creative uses of vocoders, talk boxes, filters and samplers that enhance creative expression.


I agree with you both.. and offer as common ground an example of pure vocal bliss, yet in a song enabled by technology:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7OYsGAp_QY


I was sure you were going to link to this:

https://youtu.be/Y6ljFaKRTrI


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3WgfOVRr7U

> If I hear one more person who comes up to me and complains about "computer music has no soul" then I will go furious, you know. 'Cause of course the computer is just a tool. And if there is no soul in computer music then it's because nobody put it there and that's not the computer's role. It's the role of the songwriter. He puts down his soul in the song if he wants to. A guitar will never write a song and a computer will never write a song. These are just tools.

-- Björk


I’m a huge fan of both the human voice and of synthesis, to the point where my ideal musical space to play in tries to smear the lines between the two in various ways.

Combining singing with synthesis is where it’s at. If you’re specifically talking about computer-generated vox then I probably agree with you. But there’s a whole range of things that can be had with a mix of singing and synthesis that is wonderful to behold.

The standout track for me is Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek: https://youtu.be/UYIAfiVGluk She can do this live, solo, because all of the harmonies are generated by her voice synth. And the way it reflects her in-the-moment dynamics cannot be matched by a human chorus even if they sank a hundred hours into synchronizing the performance.


Only tenuously related to your point (which I agree with), but I think we'll have better-than-human deep learning based vocals in less than a decade.

Oh yikes, the ice cream / cheesecake of human emotional expression, this will disturb me.

Well, it's not entirely fist-shaking about the 'good ol days'. There has been research done into this that shows that modern music has become more repetitive: https://pudding.cool/2017/05/song-repetition/

But why is repetition considered "bad music"? The mind craves certain kinds of repetition.

I'm big on the electronic music scene here; and once you're in the zone that repetitive four-on-the-floor 120/140bpm dance beat begins to feel like a heartbeat: essential, calming, and deadly if stopped

On another note I recall hearing about some anthropologists who claim that the acoustics of Stonehenge are optimal for repetitive drumming in the 130-150bpm range, suggesting it to be an ancient dancehall for prehistoric techno beats


On that note, I find the best thing about EDM is that that repetition is used as a foundation for musical themes, and that expression is done by subtly changing repetitions to make new themes, then mixing them all together in interesting ways.

There's definitely something meditative about it.


Boooooooooooriiiiiiiifiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiingggg. REEEEEEEEEEE

Still fucking boooring

This fucking article was so fucking boring and mediocre it makes me fucking puke.

This weekend I was slogging through a book I had been meaning to read for ten years when I realized that twitter is actually more enjoyable than books.

I would argue that totally depends on the books and the twitter threads that you're reading!

It took me a long time to realize that if a book wasn't interesting or enjoyable, I could just...stop. With twitter it's a bit mentally easier to just close the browser.


I find books are every bit as enjoyable. The problem is the first 30-50 pages are usually a slog, before I hit my "activation energy" and really get into it (or realize I don't like it).

When I was less distracted, the slog was easier.


I use to try and push through the slog, but now I determine why I am reading the book and if it's worth continuing. I've stopped reading multiple books this year to go on to something I enjoy more and it's been fantastic. I used to feel obligated to finish every book I started, but realized that some books are just not worth it. I suppose the same could be said for a lot of things in life.

Don't read e-books on your phone. Not that you're doing that, but it's very difficult to do for reasons you're describing.

I carry a Kindle Paperwhite just for focused reading, but I also have a Kindle app on my phone, so I'll read books rather than obsessively checking email / social media / weather / omganything. I read different books on my phone thank on the Kindle, things that I can easily pick up and put down without having to shift the brain to a different gear. (Current phone read: Everything Is Fucked. Current Kindle read: War and Peace.)

It's still crazy to me the paperwhites are more expensive than Amazon's Fire Tablets

I imagine most of the cost is in that wonderful screen. Reading on a paperwhite is a revelation - the next best thing to an actual book, and better than many books.

Demand, mostly, but I agree - it's especially expensive since it's a platform device that's exclusively locked to their marketplace.

I see this is downvoted for going against the HN narrative that Twitter is worse than Hitler.

Boredom leads to inspiration, which leads to exploration which leads to passion which leads to disillusion which leads back to boredom.

Rinse and repeat until dead.


Its more likely to lead to watching TV.



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