Do you frequently stop and ask yourself, "How did humanity get this far?" Me neither.
Do you ever question how we got here? A group of hominids able to summon pizza by the use of a cellular device, a society so sophisticated that we squander over which fictional characters should initiate romantic relationships.
What force was it that drove us humans to become this predominant species, able to bend the rules of nature and exploit our given resources? Was it a desire to create a stable world, or the willingness to disobey our nature?
Neither. The fundamental force of all our intellectual progress is the same one that makes us sketch stick figures on a notepad when the day is slow. It goes by the name boredom.
To exemplify the force of boredom let's travel a million and some years back in time to the first benchmark of human history, the discovery of fire.
The exploitation of naturally occurring fires was a crucial step in the evolution of our species. However, let me propose a question. What kind of imbecile sees a body of fire spewing up sinister looking gasses and immediately gets the intrigue to study the flames?
The only possible explanation must be that the bipeds where bored to their minds. I mean what else was there to do a million years ago, play Checkers? A bush fire must have been like a movie premier to these people. And when they were standing there, mesmerized by the inferno some pointed out its other attributes, such as how it shone up the dark nights and consumed the people who got to close.
With qualities like those the fire became an instantaneous hit, as there were very few tribes who did not desire to burn their neighbours. And that is a completely reasonable explanation on how we got our first entertainment/cooking/torture home applicant, which had the added bonus of evolving our cerebrum.
After we had slung every attainable object in the fire to ascertain if doing so would be amusing, we realised that the flames grew monotonous. What do a group of chatty vertebrates encircling a campfire do to drench the returning boredom slowly devouring their brain?
They tell stories of course. Stories of beasts so fierce that they make mountains break their no-movement protocol, and heroes so gallant that they hunt said beasts while simultaneously alleviate the frightened mountains. Suddenly we were no longer a group of slightly more intelligent primates, but rather a species capable of telling over-exaggerated stories to captivate an audience of oblivious compeers.
As stories where passed on to generation after generation, the border between fiction and reality diminished. But where's the loss? A world held up by four elephants which are hitching a ride from a giant turtle is a lot less dull than our previous unicorn lacking reality.
With the imminent flow of time the purpose of our stories changed. They were no longer told to kill time before the next hunt, they became integrated into our identity and culture. Values, ethics and beliefs where strapped onto stories to spread goodness to the next generation, like unwilling missionaries. A small wonder humanity grew bored of stories as well.
Again, humanity felt a familiar emptiness as the glare of folklore was dying. Luckily, a group of very bored individuals concluded that the truth we had been dodging all these years must exceed the thrill of our stories. Why someone who lived in a world with Deities and the Loch Ness monster would believe that is beyond human comprehension.
With a newfound respect for facts and evidence we discover that the planet is in fact not being carried by a testudine, a deeply saddening truth as I can only assume that the turtle was a good boy.
Nonetheless, as we ventured farther in the fields of science, an enormous pile of question accumulated for every single discovery. Every time someone felt the chill of boredom creeping up on them, they could simply pick up a question and spend a decade arguing whether it's the geocentric or heliocentric model which describes our universe. Thanks to the ever-growing mound of queries we got a succession of scientific breakthroughs and most importantly no man seeking answers would be bored again.
From that point onward humanity only prospered as we invented the next revolutionary device after the other. It wasn't long until you could watch a stranger drop anchor on the earth's biggest satellite while worrying abouth when the next neutron is going to assert itself in a radioactive nucleous.
Thanks to the bored scientists we got a constant flow of fresh tech and entertainment, which made us able to distance ourselves from the languishing boredom. And so we arrive at our current time. A place where you can spend your valuable time browsing through picture of penguins with backpacks.
With entertainment of that calibre it would appeared that we have finally bested our old enemy. However, I foresee a day when browsing the web will be as dull as glaring at a campfire. What shall we do then?
Can virtual reality help us ascend our mind to a new level of excitement, or must we escape the wretched planet to a new one where boredom will cease to survive. Maybe humanity will finally succumb to the power of monotony and be left to suffer on a planet blighted by boredom.