Anyone able to dig up the archive to my LiveJournal, circa 2002-2006, would be in for a real treat. Entries detailing hangouts with friends, school play rehearsals, rereadings of the Harry Potter series, the fact that my crush had tweaked my ponytail flirtatiously that day –- my earnestly teenaged blog had all the stylistic panache and thrilling action that typically attracts a readership of between zero to 10 people.
I like to think my readership was closer to 10 but let’s be real: That’s an optimistic estimate.
One of the more exciting entries from my youthful LiveJournal
Thinking back on those banal, and all-too-public, blog posts now fills me with waves of stomach-clenching embarrassment -– especially the password-locked posts that consisted, yes, solely of AIM conversations with my crushes. But utterly un-self-conscious immersion in one’s own activities is a time-honored teenage mode. We’d scribble solipsistically in diaries; we’d lie on our twin beds listening to mind-bending music that would become seemingly integral to our newly forming identities; we’d spend aimless hours just hanging with friends, driving around or smoking pot or doing nothing at all.
Teens have, in short, always thrown themselves wholeheartedly into pursuits that their elders might not have time for or view as worthwhile. Adults rarely have time to be bored and to see where that boredom takes them, but teens have been making something out of boredom since the invention of cow-tipping.
It’s 2015, however, so this practice needs a hip name. How about borecore?
Borecore, posits The New York Times Magazine’s Jenna Wortham, denominates the vast pool of non-viral, remarkably uninteresting Vines and social media videos uploaded or streamed by young people. They’re not doing anything clever with the six-second limitation or the eternal loop. They’re not capturing anything inherently grabby, funny or important. It’s just ... them, goofing off, cuddling, driving aimlessly or lip-syncing to '80s music alone. It is hardcore boring.
And, appropriately, they’re not really attracting a viewership. People don’t seem to be ironically binging on Vines of teenagers removing their nail polish or practicing inexpert karate chops. Just like no one sought out my dull and self-absorbed LiveJournal, instead flocking to innovative LJs like Oh No They Didn’t, a gossipy celebrity blog. There are always far more people, especially young people with time and energy on their hands, creating content than there are people creating things the rest of us deem worth looking at.
Did I mention endless personality quizzes? The world needed to know my seduction style.
Wortham diagnoses it not as narcissism but “the never-to-be-viral output that comes from mixing powerful devices and a lifetime of social-media training with regular, old teenage boredom.” Sure. As long as there have been low-barrier methods of public self-expression, teens have been on them, enacting their mundane performances of self for an audience of next to no one. LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram –- video apps are just the medium du jour.
Until the day that tastemakers create and seek out the intensely boring as a status symbol or artistic aesthetic in itself, there's no need to imagine trends around the long-standing tradition of boring people creating uninteresting content. Stand down, teenagers; your half-hearted Vining doesn’t deserve a name.