23 Mar 2023 People Aren’t Bored Anymore
Almost exactly two years ago I wrote a blog entitled NFTs, SPACs, WSB, and the Problem of Boredom. The purpose of the blog was to point to the absurd excesses represented by non-fungible tokens (NFTs), special purposes acquisition companies (SPACs), and crypto projects of various sorts. And, not to take too much of a victory lap (lots of reasonable people were saying the same things!), but of course NFTs are now defunct and the SEC is suing lots of people who ran NFT-related grifts, SPACs are unwinding and tied up in lawsuits, the massive fraud of FTX was perpetuated and popped, etc., etc., etc. Basically what I’m saying is that the things that people did when they were bored and flush with cash and time are not as much fun when assets disappear and the SEC is looking into the things.
People aren’t bored anymore! Here in 2023, people are the opposite of bored; they are over-stimulated and tightly wound, overserved on a cocktail of inflation and interest rate explosion with a smidge of bank failure, shaken into a froth.
There’s nothing we can do to avoid boredom and mania. But what we can do is manage the noise. When we’re bored, we often find ourselves uncomfortable with the accompanying silence and rush to fill it with loud and exciting voices we hope will pull us from our boredom, which is how NFTs happen. When we’re living in a period of mania, the noise is incessant, and often the shortcut we take to manage the chaos is keying in on the voices that are shouting above the fray, which is how bank runs happen.
Do you see what we’re doing? We are constantly reaching to turn the volume up. And when that happens, what we tend to get from our various forms of media is a bunch of garbage.
It’s okay to live a quiet life. There is nothing compelling you to listen to all the voices yelling that you’re just one fad diet or investment portfolio tactic away from success. You’re not missing the boat on crypto. You don’t need to play a cat and mouse game with the Fed. You don’t need to invest in that IPO. The political party in power has absolutely no bearing on your portfolio. CNBC doesn’t know what your name is.
All this noise is nothing more and nothing less than distraction.
When it comes to your money, what matters is this: Do you have the discipline and accountability to consistently behave in ways that align with your highest values? The ways themselves are not the hard part. With some guidance anyone can know how much to save, where to save it, how to invest it, and how to pass it to heirs. No, the hard part is the behave part, and that’s also the most important part.
The more garbage we listen to, whether we are bored or manic, the harder it is to behave wisely. You can do it; you can be disciplined and accountable on your way to financial well-being. But, as John Prine sang, you might need to “blow up your TV, throw away your paper” first.