The cheery image of humanity projected by social media selfies isn’t an attempt to fool us into believing in the contentment myth; it’s how we want to see ourselves.
Sartre famously wrote that “l’enfer, c’est les autres”: hell is other people. But I’d rather suggest that “other people” are both hell and heaven. Strung between community and individuality, the umbilical cord of identity is a tenuous one.
It’s an attractive proposition to believe that humans are in essence inclined to do good. But there is also a case to be made for the opposite: that humans’ true nature is driven by base and amoral appetites. These two views of human nature seem to be irreconcilable—but are they?
Boredom is the mind searching for something to do. We experience it as unpleasant, but tedium can help us grow into better, more well-rounded people.
Imagine the movie script: in some post-apocalyptic world, civilization as we know it has been obliterated, buried under millennia of sand and dust. And then, after humanity has reestablished itself and built a new, independent tradition of science, art and philosophy, some archeologist stumbles upon an artifact from the distant past. Our present.
What used to be “entertainment” has become background noise. It’s everywhere, it’s plentiful, and it’s effortless. Instead of being something to do that adds value to our scarce free time, entertainment is becoming a generic mind-filler when we’ve got nothing better to do.