A Strained Relationship


By Jonathan Pollard

“Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.”

– Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher & founder of existentialism

It’s damn time we face this one unavoidable reality, and this may sting a little: It’s good to be lazy. Truth be told, laziness is boredom’s tortured identical twin, the one forced to put up with the bullshit and harsh appraisals; the one having to listen to the legions of excuses laid out by his unpretentious mother to explain away his brother’s same idle behaviour. Yes, their outward appearances remain uncannily similar, but there’s certainly no question that it’s their personalities – the way they’re perceived by popular culture – that set them apart. Laziness implies a lack of motivation and dogged determination for the status quo, while boredom is more tolerated. Boredom is generally viewed as a leisurely break from worthwhile activity. One becomes bored, for example, once all productive work has been completed and there’s nothing else to do. Laziness, sadly, will forever remain a stigma, the ultimate behavioural end point, a label – a rep tough as nails to shake within certain circles.

Tragic, really, that this seared perception of laziness has drawn the short straw, time and time again. But strip away the preconceived notions and the misguided attitude simmering out there, and what remains is this whimpering, feeble, naked little misconception, itching at the chance to finally voice its opinion and justify its endurance as a force not only to be celebrated, but also promoted.

Yes, being lazy is good because it actually provides the premium fuel that churns the world’s economic engine. Consumers are viewed by advertisers as lazy, though you’ll never see the “L” word prominent on any billboard or brochure (that would be mud-on-your-face insulting, of course). But astute advertisers know full well their repressed target markets, as evidenced by the generally accepted notion of “making things easier” for their clients. Remote car door openers, for example, eliminate the labour intensive chore of manually turning a key. Online shopping cancels the previously unbearable task of dragging out the raincoat and driving down to the local strip mall. And Richard Simmons parading around his hideous candy-striped Dolfin shorts high-stepping to Sweatin’ to the Oldies aside, the boob tube remains arguably science’s most widely hailed donation to passivity today. Modern conveniences allow for all of this, and much more. Contemporary society is actually geared towards laziness. But in spite of it all, people moan and groan about their lack of free time. Nobody seems to have enough time in their day to sit back, relax, and be lazy. But that’s okay because the manufacturing and marketing of such sedentary-promoting gadgets create jobs.

And who dreams up these contraptions, anyhow? Why – big surprise here – it’s often the do-nothing crowd themselves, those who would rather vomit than, say, crawl to their TV sets, stick out a finger and press the ON/OFF button (much more on this in a later observation). So in this way, laziness opens the floodgates to productive creativity. Ironically, it is during this perpetual quest to remain lazy that productivity surfaces. The geniuses behind the six-pack abs shirt hit the trifecta here, striking it rich and creating silk-screening jobs, all while selling an impressive optical illusion. How many multi-platinum songs have been conceived by thumb-twiddling garage band musicians, banging their drums and strumming their guitars, arousing their geezer neighbours from their regularly scheduled naps?

In layman terms laziness is a precondition for boredom which, in turn, earns its keep in terms of increased economic productivity and creativity. Lazy people generally lack the necessary oomph to succeed. They tend to oversleep on couches and floor rugs, watch excessive amounts of television, become masters at emitting various types of bodily blasts on command, or exhibit – through their actions or complete inactivity – behaviour consistent with the shameful lazy label. At some point, though, motivation for action takes hold, compelling these once lazy people to take action, do something, or somehow change their condition. Not immediately, mind you, but soon. Hence, their previous state of do-nothing laziness becomes a precursor to accepted boredom. Lazy people lack motivation while bored people don’t; the latter just don’t have anything to do. These people continue to oversleep, flip channels while plopped down on their aptly named Lay-Z-Boy recliners, or cruise the hood, but they’re now officially bored – and thus free as a bird to conceive flashy music videos, contribute nouveau footprints, and otherwise make the world a better place.

So, yes indeed – the ‘L’ word should be encouraged. It should be promoted at the local level through PSA’s and nationally via social media. The public deserves to be educated that this concept of laziness does (who would’ve thunk it?) is indeed a valuable, unlearned skill – a fact that should be enough to quell any sibling rivalry.