We spend an incredible amount of our life waiting in queues. Earlier today an hour of my morning was invested warming a bench at a nearby barber shop while a dozen people ahead of me had their hair cut. Given my propensity to people watch, it’s probably no surprise that this was another opportunity to compare and contrast queues today to those from a decade ago. Ten years ago I was generally the only person in the shop looking at a palm-sized screen of text1. Before the rise of the smart phone people generally used their flip phones for entertainment or, depending on their age, carried a paperback novel for just such an occasion. Today it was no surprise at all that everyone in the queue was looking at their phones, coming up for air every so often as we shuffled along the queuing bench that ran along the perimeter of the shop.

This is an interesting time as we are clearly transitioning from being good at being bored to being incredibly bad at it. Many people no longer find it necessary to keep themselves company while waiting their turn. Instead the default action has become to reach for the phone (or tablet) for that next hit of serotonin. I’m not going to argue that this change is positive or negative, as I’m not a scientist who has studied the phenomenon. What I can argue, though, is that this is going to be an interesting decade up ahead as we entrench ourselves online even more.

What technologies will we take for granted in 2029? How will we pass the time? Will we forget how to be bored? I don’t know, but I do like thinking about it.

  1. This would mean either the HP iPaq 2210 I brought over from Canada or the HP iPaq 210 Enterprise that replaced it.