Cam Pak

I want to be bored again • 4 min read

I remember skateboarding away the hot summer days. (I can still double kickflip, btw.) I remember sitting outside for a prolonged period of time and just letting my mind wander. I remember waking up before all my siblings and parents and just quietly migrating around the house, reading cereal boxes or shampoo bottles to keep me occupied until they woke up. I remember having a question pop up in my head, shrug because I didn't have Google, and then just let it go and carry on with the day.

Life used to be simple …and over time, it became complex.

I don't know when it happened. I think the key moment was when I got an iPod Touch 2nd generation on my 12th birthday. (Honestly, that was the absolute coolest gift ever, and I'm so thankful my dad got it and found an amazing deal at the time.) I loved the games, the apps, and the ability to have a free texting app. That iPod consumed me. All I wanted to do was play on my iPod. It was so alluring and unlike any other device at the time. I had the world's information at my fingertips. I flooded it with apps and games.

Before the iPod I would get bored easily, a good kind of bored where my mind wanders and the greatest of ideas and insights appeared. After the iPod… well, I was never bored again. And those really cool ideas and insights popped up less and less.

In high school, I joined Facebook. Then Instagram. Then Twitter. I was plugged in. I was connected. Or, I thought I was. And after using those apps, 80% of the time, I'd be left feeling overwhelmed and anxious. (Though, I didn't have words for those feelings until later in life.) In retrospect, I think it was just too much information for my brain to handle. I had enough of things on my mind already, and then being always plugged in and processing information made life harder than it needed to be. I sought validation in my posts, hoping I'd be enough. I had intense fear of missing out (FOMO). And, it was hard being present in the moment because my mind was always distracted by what's happening in the online world.

Those experiences still impact my life today. And while life feels a lot more complicated than before, I don't think it needs to be that way. What if it's more complicated because I'm just too "plugged in"? We get pings and dings and ads every day, all day. Going back to when I was a little kid, push notifications weren't a thing. When I left school, school stayed where it was. Now, when people leave school for the day, all of the social life and pressure follows them online. There is incredible pressure for kids because of this inability to truly disconnect.

Now, is this reflection anti-tech? Nope. My day job is tech. I love tech and believe it has the power to change lives for God's good purposes. What is this reflection then? I guess it's to highlight this one simple rule of life…

Simplicity is intentional. Life accumulates and complicates by default.

In order to connect, I must unplug. It feels counter-intuitive to digitally distance myself, but how deep is my online connection anyways? How do I go back to being like myself as a kid?

Make space to be bored.

Delete infinite-scrolling, distracting apps. Remove all notifications from robots and leave on notifications directly from humans. Turn on greyscale mode (this makes the world around me seem so much more vibrant). Disable the browser and disable the App Store. Use the phone as a tool instead of a pacifier. Enable larger text on your phone, which makes it easier to focus on just one thing at a time. The goal is to make the phone boring, so that you use it minimally and as a tool. (For example, I don't carry around a hammer with me always just in case I find a nail. I grab the hammer when needed.)

Modern phones are not just phones, they're pocket computers with the phone abilities. I don't want a pocket computer on me at all times lol.

There's a better way.

God has shown me that life is about relationships, not things or status. He's shown me that I am validated by him, and his validation and love never waivers. So... I don't have to seek that from others online. He's shown me the richness of deep connection, and that happens in person and rarely over the phone.

I simplify my devices, so that I can remove distractions in order to focus on the people that matter most.

— from Cam Pak, a digital minimalist and someone who actually wants to get bored