Boredom is such a powerful state of being. It make us do all sorts of things to escape, avoid, or alleviate it. Usually really stupid things. It's almost no wonder that kids these days take drugs recreationally. They're so bored with everything it's amazing they aren't hopped up on something every single moment of their day.
How can they bored? They have school and more activities than ever to fill their time. They have iPhones and iPods and the internet and cars and some of them even have McJobs. Well, exactly how intellectually stimulating is all of that? I know I was constantly bored with school work. Learning theories, dates, names, and formulas isn't exactly what I would call challenging work. It gets to a point where either you "get it" or you don't and if you've tried 50 times to absorb the information, chances are you're just not going to get it, and you never will. All of the classes are the same, regardless of the subject, and we use the same techniques for all of them. Learn what you can during class, do the homework to the best of your ability, cram for tests, and promptly forget as much as you can after the semester to make room in your short term memory for the next battery of classes.
You think I'm wrong? Well, then you must have gone to school before we had bullshit tests that were composed of nothing but multiple choice or short answer where all we had to do was vomit back what we learned the week before. They even teach AP classes how to write essays that the graders will like, not what we actually believe, but the answers they want to see. This kind of meta-thinking is not only tedious, it's mind-numbing, which is why so many kids these days walk around like air-headed assholes. They're so privileged they don't have to think. I do apologize to anyone who may be the exception, but then if you are the exception I wonder if you might agree with me.
There are of course after school activities ranging from various clubs and sports teams to volunteer work. Chances are, kids are in these not because they're motivated to participate, but because they want to bulk up resumes for college applications. Out of the three I mentioned in this paragraph, volunteer work might be the most stimulating because there are so many things to choose from. There's also a chance they've joined an organization that will recognize their individuals talents, and won't just use them as stamp-lickers or coffee-getters.
Jobs. Think about all the jobs you had as a teenager. Was there one that you could honestly say was stimulating enough that you didn't get bored after a couple of months? Even the jobs I liked I was bored with. I might have been too busy to think about how bored I was, but trust me, boredom was lurking, waiting for the customers to leave. It's not like teenagers today have many chances to "mind the shop" anymore for their parents. They're given the crappiest jobs at the crappiest places doing the same thing over and over again with little to no real responsibility. Doesn't really give you much incentive to hold a job now does it? Certainly doesn't make you feel obligated to go into work everyday and on time...and not stoned.
Entertainment. We are surrounded by media and entertainment and socializing all the time. Not a waking moment goes by where we aren't connected to some device that will stream media to us, just in case we get bored. Even I keep my cell phone on all the time (although it has no camera, no internet access, and functions primarily as a phone and alarm clock - it does have some extras). So why are we getting bored if we have all of this? Because it's all passive. There's no real need to interact with any of it. Even talking doesn't seem to really use our higher brain functions anymore. I have been so starved for the last few months for real intellectual conversation that I had to start talking to myself (i.e. my blog, tell people so it stops) to keep from getting bored. I think even the internet has become more passive these days.
Yes I know, the internet. It was supposed to be the big savior to revitalize the world, the big interactive media where we can connect to people from all over the world in a deep and meaningful way. When's the last time you talked to someone from India on the internet? Canada? I don't think I've even been in a chat room since 1999, if not sooner. You know why? Because it degraded into a giant fuckfest, which is what happens when you appeal to the lowest standard. It doesn't get much lower than the "show me your tits" guys, and that's mostly what the internet has become. Sure, there's a lot of great information on here, a lot of useful tools, but even when I go through my Facebook news feed I probably read 100 status for every 3 that I actually find interesting, relevant, or important to my life or my friends' lives (I cannot tell you how annoying I find cryptic updates and posting song lyrics as your status. Just stop.). How can we not get bored with the internet when most of our time is spent looking for something that stimulates us rather than being stimulated?
With all that said, we spend so much of our time being bored that we don't even have the energy to get ourselves out of being bored. After burning all our energy trying to get through the things we have to do in order to do what we want to do...we either choose to stay bored by doing the same things we always do (internet, watch tv, etc.) or we do something that doesn't take much effort: