In the words of Doug Stanhope: “Boredom is a disease. Drugs cure it.” This might be a throw-away line from a famously irreverent standup comedian, but it points to a truth that our society lacks the sophistication to debate: boredom causes legitimate human suffering, and this costs money and even lives.
Some psychologists are aware of the consequences of boredom. It’s now believed that boredom literally causes the brain to degenerate, as it requires a certain minimum amount of excitory stimulation to maintain the strength of existing neuron connections.
This is why it seems to actually hurt. The mental pain associated with boredom is the pain of your brain dying from a lack of stimulation, in the same way that a newborn infant neglected by its mother may die of hospitalism from a lack of oxytocin.
It’s not likely that anyone in Nelson will go as far as shooting someone out of sheer boredom, as happened to the unfortunate Chris Lane in Oklahoma. But the more boring this city becomes, the further we move towards forcing people to become violent in order to combat the pain that comes from so many fun things being illegal.
Boredom is a real thing that makes people misbehave. It has been observed in British prisons that boredom leads to misbehaviour.
The reason for this ought to be clear by now, especially if the reader knew any juvenile delinquents while growing up. Because boredom is painful, people suffer from it, and as a result of the suffering they become willing to destroy in order to alleviate it.
Almost everyone has done something recklessly stupid at some point because it felt good on account of that it relieved boredom.
Unfortunately, the people making the laws in New Zealand are whores, not psychologists. They have whored themselves out to the pharmaceutical, tobacco and alcohol industries, and these industries have commanded the politicians to make recreational alternatives to their products illegal for the sake of wiping out their competitors.
Neither is the Nelson City Council any better. They have proven themselves utterly incapable of taking care of a single homeless protester outside the Farmers building, so the expectation that they could comprehend an end to the War on Drugs is far too much to ask for.
Nelson, like all provincial New Zealand towns, is not an easy place to live in when a person is aged between 18 and 30 or thereabouts. If you’re a young person and consequently have a high point of homeostasis for excitement, there are not many really good options.
Cannabis is illegal, the drinking culture is violent and disgusting, the hookup culture is vile and depressing, and the control freaks have even taken away the simple pleasure of having a cigarette to relax by making it too expensive to be enjoyable.
Well, this is the price. This is how we end up with burnt-out cars sitting on the side of Maitai Valley Road.
As this column has previously argued, there ought to be cannabis cafes on Bridge Street. Giving the young people of Nelson greater recreational options than booze and television would result in less boredom, which would result in fewer burnt-out cars.
This would necessarily require a change to New Zealand’s cannabis laws, which would have ancillary benefits, not least putting a stop to the current wastage of $400,000,000 of tax money every year.
Perhaps some of the estimated $120,000,000 of Police funding that would be saved from cannabis legalisation could then be used to clean up the mess on the side of Maitai Valley Road, as it has been sitting there for over a week.