Is constant distraction killing creativity?
That was the argument made this past weekend in a Wall Street Journal column by Scott Adams, better known as the creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert, who warns we might be in “dangerous territory” as a result.
“Lately I’ve started worrying that I’m not getting enough boredom in my life,” Adams writes. “If I’m watching TV, I can fast-forward through commercials. If I’m standing in line at the store, I can check email or play ‘Angry Birds.’ When I run on the treadmill, I listen to my iPod while reading the closed captions on the TV.”
Drawing upon his childhood in the “tiny mountain town of Windham, N.Y.,” Adams credits his creativity to the “soul-sucking boredom” that came from growing up with the same 40 kids, a limited set of toys in his toy box and a rabbit-eared TV set that offered only one channel.
(He also says his greatest period of creative output came during his corporate life – not surprising considering Dilbert’s success has been humour capitalizing on the colourless world of cubicles.)
But what’s worrisome for Adams is what this “lack of boredom” is doing to the economy, describing a self-imagined “what if” world that is clearly is mirrored on our own. Pointing to the prevalence of sequels and unscripted television programming, a rise in dogmatic thinking and, the most problematic, a lack of “industry-changing innovation” leading to economic flat-lining.
Creativity is key to everything we do at High Road: From the people we hire and our day-to-day culture, to our diverse roster of clients and the amazing ideas we bring to life.
And while our work is filled with digital elements – the excessive “stimulation” referred to by Adams – we pride ourselves on never forgetting the basics: To challenge yourself every day; to embrace growth; to never settle for ordinary when extraordinary is within grasp; to work with integrity and, perhaps most importantly, to put people first.
Perhaps the constant distraction to which Adams refers is less about killing creativity and more about spreading ourselves too thin. Or accepting the mundane when only the marvellous should do.
“I’ve noticed that my best ideas always bubble up when the outside world fails in its primary job of frightening, wounding or entertaining me,” writes Adams.
He adds: “it’s worth keeping an eye on the link between our vanishing boredom and our lack of innovation. It’s the sort of trend that could literally destroy the world without anyone realizing what the root problem is.”
While High Road is a strong believer in taking the time to step back and think, we believe creativity has no cap. So if Adams is issuing a creative call to action, we’re here to answer.
We encourage you to do the same. After all, a little boredom never hurt anyone.
Read the rest of Scott Adams’ article, “The Heady Thrill of Having Nothing to Do,” here.