Phone Bored

Over past one week, I have often started a blog post and left it unfinished. A lot of what I wanted to say was about Facebook and its response to its current crisis. The more I thought, the more I wondered: what’s the point after all nothing changes. So instead, I decided to get away from it all by going down the blind side alleys of the Internet.

I went on a reading binge, finding stories and blog posts that were/are worth reading. I finished the new book by Donna Leon, The Temptation of Forgiveness. It was a weekend-long effort to focus away from the Facebook Meme. It turned out to be a fun journey. For instance, when I read, “Generation Z is already bored by the Internet,” by wonderful Taylor Lorenz, I learned that there is such a thing called, “Phone Bored.”

Phone boredom occurs when you’re technically “on your phone,” but you’re still bored out of your mind. It’s that feeling when you’re mindlessly clicking around, opening and closing apps, looking for something to do digitally and finding the options uninteresting.

Whereas previous generations may have scrolled through channels on the radio, wandered into different rooms in their house, or flicked through countless TV channels, today’s teens say they’ll sometimes open and close up to 20-30 apps, hoping that something, anything, will catch their attention.

It is not just Generation Z. As someone who predates GenX, even I feel phone bored. Either I am GenZ, or I refused to grow old. Either way, I too am definitely “phone bored.” When you think about it, this state of boredom is bad news for consumer apps which are vying for the attention of this cohort.

The companies which are looking to sell to them should be well aware that the sub-fractionalization of attention isn’t a good thing. In reality, this is a terrible development for advertisers and even for those pinning influencer-marketing channels. The meme fatigue and phone bored might as well turn out to be ticking time-bombs of the attention economy.

Or just that there aren’t really interesting apps our there. I mean, developers are coming up with apps that sync music (playing the background) to what you do in bed with your partner. Yup, we are in that part of the cycle. Why don’t you try out that app, after you figure out what pizza to order based on your astrological sign. I mean it is totally wrong, but aren’t all horoscopes?

I started out by saying that Facebook, you are getting me down. So, in keeping with the grand journalistic tradition, to tie the lead to the kicker, here is my one Facebook comment: for a company that hoovers up all our personal data, trashes our privacy and turns into data points to be sold for pennies, its founder makes it awfully hard for people trying to steal his garbage — no, not the digital garbage, but the actual real trash.

And before I go, today, in 1975, Bill Gates and Paul started Microsoft. Happy birthday Microsoft, and welcome to the Middle Age!

April 4, 2018, San Francsico 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo via UnSplash

A letter from Om

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