Monthly Archives: November 2013

Boredom in the Facebook Generation

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We live in a world plagued by an epidemic of online addiction.  From an early age, today’s children are initiated into a society where social networking, constant electronic stimulation, and limited interpersonal interaction are the norm.  Rather than cope with boredom through healthy self-stimulation, people around the world are urged to fight the tedium of their lives by turning on, tuning in, and dropping out of reality.  Some may call it technological innovation and “the wave of the future.”  I call it a serious problem.

Twenty-first century society condemns boredom as a weakness of the mind, an ephemeral condition marked by loss of direction, lack of stimulation, and vulnerability.  Boredom is portrayed as such an uncomfortable emotion that everybody is obsessed with avoiding it at any cost.  As a result, countless hordes of people turn to technology as a cure-all remedy for their ennui.   The accessibility and convenience of cell phones, portable computers, tablets, PDAs, and a host of other mobile devices allow for access to the World Wide Web at any time and at just about any place.  Have you ever wondered why there always seems to be a Wi-Fi signal present, no matter where you go?  Or why mobile broadband data (3G/4G) stretches into the most remote areas of the world?  The answer is obvious: people are so psychologically averse to feeling bored that they feel the need to be connected 100% of the time.  Even if people aren’t physically logged-on 24/7, the mere assurance of a consistently reliable Internet connection is enough to put people’s minds at ease.  Sort of like a cyber security blanket, if you will.

I attribute this absurd fear of boredom to the systematic infiltration of technology into our everyday lives.  As a child, I remember my babysitter regularly sitting me in front of the television and instructing me to watch cartoons until my parents came home.  Not wanting to cause any problems, I obliged my caretaker’s request and enjoyed countless re-runs of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel garbage (I use the term garbage loosely – while there are a few programs of educational merit available on these channels, I was often relegated to watching half-hour segments on the adventures of a talking sponge).  As a fairly active youth, I preferred playing baseball and football in my backyard rather than watching television.  However, my new viewing habits rapidly conditioned me out of my old preferences, and I developed an unconscious desire for electronic entertainment.  Not long after I started watching television regularly did I start reaching for the remote whenever I was bored.

Fast-forward to 2013.  Smart phones and tablets are replacing televisions and desktop computers, so technology is asserting its presence in more places than ever before.  Among these places are countless institutions of higher education.  According to the article “I Get Distracted By Their Being Distracted,” published in the Eastern Educational Journal in Spring 2011 (http://castle.eiu.edu/edjournal/Spring_2011/Distracted_by_their_distracted.pdf), 79% of college students surveyed admitted to texting in the classroom.  Interestingly however, the 20% of students who responded that texting does not interfere with learning justified their texting habits with boredom relief.  One student admitted, “Sometimes class can get too boring, so being on your phone can be some sort of stimulation to stay awake.”  Another stated, “I can listen and text at the same time.  It keeps me from being bored.”  Still another said, “Most of the time I text because I am bored, so I was not learning to begin with.”  I personally disagree with these students’ opinions on texting in the classroom.  Without undivided attention and full mental engagement with the work being discussed, students cannot effectively learn to their fullest potential.  Moreover, all three responses attributed cell phone use to a means of boredom relief, so removing technology from classrooms will force students to pay attention to the teacher and alleviate their boredom through learning.

While countless technology “users” cling to their devices as a quasi-shield from the evils of boredom, they fail to consider a significant paradox in the relationship between technology and boredom.  Behavior trends in the twenty-first century suggest that technology may, in fact, be the underlying cause of the boredom that many are trying to avoid with the use of said technology.  Some may argue, “But technology grants me access to the Internet, a massive sea of never-ending information.  I could literally surf the Internet for the rest of my life and I would still only see a small fraction of the Internet’s archives.  It’s impossible for me to get bored, right?”  Wrong.  You see, modern technology is a double-edged sword.  While I concede that technology is an immensely powerful tool that allows for instantaneous data retrieval and superfast communication, it’s abilities can very easily force users into a state of profound boredom.  That is to say, chronic technology users often become jaded by the fast pace of virtual reality and come to question their existence in the real world.

If the positive correlation between increased technology use and increased boredom does not yet seem problematic to you, consider the effect on people’s relationships and communication skills.  “Generation FB,” a 2011 New York Times opinion article by Katrin Bennhold (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/global/24iht-June24-ihtmag-bennhold-22.html), comments on effects of technology use on today’s children.  Bennhold references a 2010 study by Douglas A. Gentile of Iowa State University’s Media Research Lab: more than two hours a day in front of a screen raised the odds of exceeding the average level of attention problems by 67%.  This statistic is staggering to say the least.  It goes without saying that a propensity for boredom can be directly linked to a low attention span; an activity can only hold one’s attention for so long before one loses interest and the activity becomes automatically labeled as “boring.”  Bennhold goes on to expound her observations of high school students at the Ratsgymnasium in Osnabrück, Germany.  She describes seeing a young couple absorbed in their canoodling activities.  The boy has his arms wrapped around the girl’s waist, and the girl is clutching her iPhone in her outstretched hand, surfing her Facebook newsfeed.  It sickens me to see the most intimate of relationships – that is, the romantic relationship between two partners – tainted by technology-driven boredom.

Unfortunately, boredom’s impact on connubial relations does not end there.  Nowhere are the effects of technology-driven boredom felt more acutely than in the bedroom.  The physical relationship between two partners is supposed to be a personal and attached ordeal.  Yet, the massive proliferation of pornographic material on the Internet has generated an epidemic of sexually bored adults.  The condition of disinterest in a partner as a result of overexposure and conditioning to online pornography has earned the affectionate nickname Sexual Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD).  SADD truly is a “sad” predicament; men and women often turn to pornography as a means of exciting their sex life and escaping the normalcy of their presumably monogamous partner(s).  With the simple click of a mouse, porn enables viewers to sift through thousands of picture and video thumbnails until they find something that strikes their fancy.  Every viewing session can be different, and most porn consumers rarely become bored with a given website.  The Paul Stephens and Robert Hardwick Weston article entitled “Free Time” briefly examines pornographic usage by cataloging all Web searches conducted at the National Technical University of Athens over a 24-hour period; not surprisingly, the vast majority of searches were erotic in nature.  As you can see, SADD has the potential to affect a very large percentage of the world’s population.  Additionally, a New York Magazine article entitled “He’s Just Not That Into Anyone” (http://nymag.com/news/features/70976/) conducts several interviews with SADD victims.  One victim states, “I’ve always loved sex, and I’ve always had a lot of it, so I really had to stop and think about it when she asked me recently why she always has to be the one to initiate things.  And she was right; I guess I’ve been fading from her.  It’s like all that time with these porn stars was subduing any physical desire for my girlfriend.  And, in some weird way, my emotional need for her, too.”  Yet another responds, “In order to come, though, I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn.  Something is lost there.  I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”  Clearly, both of these men have experienced severe boredom related to their regular technology use, and the effects have taken a toll on their love life.

The inset graphic above perfectly encapsulates my views on boredom in the Facebook Generation.  The picture shows three male teenage students asleep at their desks with the caption, “BOREDOM: The innate fear that a lack of constant electronic stimulation may lead to the generation of an actual thought.”  This image reminds me of a scenario that I have witnessed far too many times.  Imagine two high school sophomores, Ryan and Jared.  The pair is sitting at Jared’s kitchen table huddled around their laptops, working on their final research papers for their US History I class.  Jared has four tabs open in his Internet browser: a Google search window for “Revolutionary War Timeline,” the Wikipedia page for George Washington, his Facebook homepage, and EasyBib, a citation generator.  Jared’s father notices his son’s unethical and inefficient research methods and suggests, “Why don’t you two walk over to the public library and take out a few books.  Those are some real sources.”  Jared counters, “But Dad, that’s so boring!  I don’t know how you made it through high school without your computer!”  Jared’s reluctance to accept his father’s advice is clearly related to his obsession with technology.  Jared realizes that by using books as sources in his paper, he may actually have to read and extrapolate his own ideas from the text.  Jared loathes the idea of boredom, and knowing that he cannot simply click over to Facebook to satiate his anxiety, dismisses the idea of textual research altogether.

Technology can be extremely useful when used properly and in moderation.  The Internet is vast frontier of information with ever-broadening horizons.  It allows for a rapid dissemination of information that exceeds the human capabilities of information processing.  As a result, people have become habituated to instantaneous gratification and high-speed connectivity.  People are so used to receiving massive quantities of information in a fraction of a second that they become frustrated and disenchanted with normal human interaction.  Every moment that passes by is a moment that you can never get back.  Consider looking up from your screen every once in a while to look around and experience the real world.  You know, it’s so boring after all.

POSTED: Thursday November 21, 2013 at 8:30 PM

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Will You be Happy with Your Reflection in 20 Years?

 When I came across this photo on Google, I was amazed to see that the photographer captured a star alone in the sky. It is rare that we look up at the sky at night and see one star; the sky tends to be full of stars often accompanied by the bright moon. To many people, the picture may seem boring because it is a white dot in a black rectangle but it is much more than that. The lone star even provides a deeper, valuable lesson about boredom.

Sometimes boredom should not be regarded as a bad thing, but as a blessing. The solitude illustrated in this picture is comparable to a situation people find themselves in often. Instead of complaining about spending a night in solitude, people should instead embrace it and use it as a time for reflection. I often hear teens complaining about how tedious their days are, but it is a nice break from the real world and as they mature they will realize its better to be bored sometimes. When I got to college I understood the value of boredom; now I am lucky if I experience an hour of boredom throughout a day.

There are various opinions on this topic in literature; in my opinion Adorno has some of the most interesting thoughts in relation to free time. He believes that free time is not actually free, no matter what you are doing during your free time, you are often spending money or contributing to an industry. He also presents an interesting idea, more connected to boredom, he states that “If people were able to make their own decisions about themselves and their lives, if they were not caught up in the realm of the eversame, they would not have to be bored.” It is an interesting idea but I do not completely agree because many people choose their careers and still become jaded.  For example, teens choose to attend college and then become bored with classes and studying, even though it is what they chose.

Interests change and new activities appeal to you, therefore it is very difficult to choose one path, and remain content for the rest of your career. One of my teachers last year told me how he had become bored with the same routine everyday. His days consisted of going through the same slides he had for the past five years and during free time, either scheduling or talking with the same teachers. He said the only time he enjoys his job is when he gets to “hangout” with my friends and me. The insight he provided me with, taught me that as I age I might not be content with the choices I have made. That is why I believe you must take time to think about the career you choose to pursue. It is not a decision that can be based off of income or the “perks” of the job.

It is not easy to be sure of every decision in order to ensure you will not regret anything.  In the link you will see a list of “fourteen choices you’ll likely regret in 20 years.” There is not an easy way to think about every decision you make and if it will affect you later on. As I grew up I realized if I was bored, there was something I could do to occupy myself. I could do something to better myself, such as studying, or do something to stimulate boredom such as video games. It is hard to pick studying over video games, but when I began classes at Pitt, I realized that was the obvious choice. The past two weekends I did not go out, because I had important exams, and the result was only getting one wrong on my chemistry exam. The weekends were full of monotony and I even regretted my decision to not spend time with my friends. Two of the regrets on the link above are “stressing out” and “working too hard” and after seeing my success on the last exam, I do not think I will ever regret either of those. Although I endured lots of boredom and stress, it was worth it.

Hard work is something that people often seem to regret at the time, because in most cases it is very boring. But in the end it is all worth it; it may be stressful at the time, but later on it allows you to have a lot more free time. If you work hard enough, you will be more likely to succeed and as a result have more time to be “bored.” By this time, you will hopefully mature enough to realize that boring times are a blessing. They allow you to reflect on your time and the decisions you have made. In recent days, I have been doing a lot of reflecting with the free time I have had and it has made me a better person. At first, I found myself bored and not sure of what to do; I later realized how rewarding it was to just think about recent and past times. The times when you are alone and are able to reflect on the past are some of the best.

According to Barry Sandywell in the Dictionary of Visual Discourse: A Dialectical Lexicon of Terms, not only our pasts, but all of civilization is rooted back to the concept of boredom. He believes, among other ideas, that it is a major factor in the growth and decline of societies and major civilizations. Later on in the definition of boredom, he claims that it is the “hidden motive of aggression and the destructive impulse,” as outlandish as this idea seems, I find myself agreeing with Sandywell. Although the thoughts I have when I am bored are not “aggressive,” I often think about the potential success I can earn through hard work and determination. When I am lying in bed late at night, unable to sleep and plagued by tedium, I think about my future and all of the goals I hope to achieve. These nights help me provide myself with the motivation I need to continue following my dreams.

You may recognize the football player in the above picture, but odds are that you do not; a lot of people will not recognize him. Matt McGloin grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania (my hometown) and later walked on at PSU and ended up earning the starting role. After all of his perseverance, he still was not invited to the NFL combine, but he never gave up and this past weekend started his first NFL game for the Oakland Raiders. He may tell you different, but I believe his hard work and motivation was caused by the boredom of our small town. It is experienced by many of us from Scranton, as there are no major sources of excitement. In my opinion, Matt McGloin used this tedium as a time to think about his goals and create a game plan.

His success story may be rare but it is an extraordinary tale of the value of determination. As a result of his hard work, it is doubtful that he will ever become jaded during his time in the NFL. Boredom encourages people to pursue a career that they believe will provide them with endless excitement, instead of a monotonous career. Throughout my first semester, I found myself unentertained by the classes related to my major, specifically chemistry.

My original plan was to become a dentist but the boredom I experienced in chemistry provoked a lot of thought about my future and inspired me to do something I truly enjoy. I decided to pursue graphic design (along with Finance, as a back-up plan) because it is something I have always enjoyed doing.  In my opinion if you without a doubt love something, it is very difficult to lose interest in it. For the past four years I have been interested in drawing and graphic design, which started out of boredom. I always had nothing to do late at night when everyone else was sleeping, so I decided to draw. Years later the same boredom which sparked my interest in art led me to pursue it as a career.

Adorno claimed he has no hobbies (he is not a workaholic) but he takes all of his activities outside of work “very seriously.” He later clarifies more by saying that classifying the activities as a hobby would make a mockery of them. I believe that this holds true because I do not consider drawing a hobby because I invest a lot of time in it and it is important to me. The word hobby, itself, makes the activity you are referring to seem childish and less important. I believe that if you are rewarded in some way from your “hobbies” then they are not hobbies because there is something gained and it is not just serving as a time-filler.

There are not many activities I take part in that I would classify as hobbies, but one that I would consider a hobby is watching television. I do not take it seriously nor do I feel compelled to watch it everyday, it is just something to entertain me. Last night after spending a significant amount of time writing this essay, I decided to take a break and watch a David Blaine special. After it was over I continued to watch the next show, and before I knew it the clock read 1:30 AM and I could not sleep. I was more bored while watching television than I had been while writing, and it made me reflect on the way I was spending my time. I realized I wasted valuable time that could have been spent writing, so I decided to do so until I became tired. Although I wasted time, it was helpful because it motivated me to work harder and make the best of the time I had left to write.

Boredom is related to time because if you maximize your time with homework or studying, it is fulfilling and you do not regret it later. But if you waste your free time on a less rewarding endeavor you will often lament it soon after. It is difficult to become bored while involved in something you love, and if you make the right choices and follow your instincts your career will be more gratifying. It is rare that a person who pursued their passion is ever unhappy (in terms of their work) for extended periods of time. Boredom is unavoidable, but it is important to embrace it and reflect on your recent decisions and use it to better yourself.

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by | November 21, 2013 · 1:51 am

Boredom: An Unexpected Vice

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Making friends was never a big concern for Jordan.  Throughout his life he always had plenty of them. Some close, some distant, and some that never lost the ever so glorified title.  It was not until he went to college that he realized how much he struggled with making friends.

In high school he was the quarterback of the football team, dated the captain of the cheerleading team, and had a full scholarship to play Division I football.  Seems pretty cliché but that was just how his life was.  He spent most of his days trying to keep up with all of his schoolwork while fighting the distraction of daydreaming about playing under the lights every Friday night. He was invited to all of the parties, hung out with all the different clicks, and was favorited by a lot of his teachers.  His life was what many hoped their high school years would be like, but he paid it no attention.  All this changed when he went to college though.

He was now just another student at a gigantic university, just another player on a star studded college football team, and just another kid overwhelmed by the changes that autonomy brought to his life.  Jordan depended on his accolades made in high school to make friends, but now that all of that was in the past he had nothing to lean on.  He was intimidated by how many people there were at his university and did not think that he would be able to find anyone that he could call his friend.  He did not struggle with making friends because he was socially awkward or unkind.  He was just not as outgoing as most people.  He enjoyed relaxing and watching his favorite television shows rather than going out and partying all night.  The only problem was that while he was shut in his room by himself, everyone else was out meeting each other.

Spending weekend after weekend watching the same television shows became repetitive and was not as entertaining as it was the first couple of weekends.  Once Jordan got tired of his so called “favorite” television shows, he did not know what else he could do at that time of night to entertain himself.  The only other things he could do to remain happy was either eating or doing homework.  Only so much food can be eaten at one time until you feel nauseous, so eating was not the solution.  Jordan hated doing homework during the week, so doing it during his free time was the last thing he wanted to do.  He wanted to go out and hang out with people, but the problem was he did not have a group of friends to call up.  His long nights of contemplating what he should do turned into long miserable nights of realizations of how secluded he made himself from everyone else.

These long boring nights made him realize that he had to go out and meet new people before he drove himself insane.  His idleness was leading him down a hole that was too deep to climb out of. Spending Friday and Saturday nights with the cast of The Martin Lawrence Show was not as fulfilling as the excitement of the friendships he made in high school.  He wanted to experience that feeling again.  He decided that his lonely nights were over and made a promise to never feel as if he was in that hole again.  The next weekend he challenged himself and went out with a group of friends from his English class.  He went to a house party and was nervous at first from seeing all the unfamiliar faces.  He knew that being nervous and not talking to anyone was not going to make his night any more exciting that it would have been while shut in his room.  As soon as the music came blasting through the speakers, a sense of comfort began circulating through his body and he was back in his element.  He danced, sang, and most importantly made lots of new friends.  Jordan ended up becoming very close to the friends that he made that night and never spent another weekend alone.  Although Jordan felt that his boredom was going to reveal the end of his life a lot faster than he expected, it somehow acted as an aid.

Studying Boredom

http://rt4rf9qn2y.scholar.serialssolutions.com/?sid=google&auinit=SM&aulast=Shaw&atitle=Boredom,+stress+and+social+control+in+the+daily+activities+of+adolescents.&title=Journal+of+leisure+research&volume=28&issue=4&date=1996&spage=274&issn=0022-2216

Just as Jordan found boredom as an aid in the previous story, a study was performed that proved this just how helpful boredom actually is.  This link above contains a summary of a study that was done to obtain a further understanding of what causes boredom to occur in everyday life.  In this study, 82 8th grade students filled out two questionnaires, did a face-to-face interview, and wrote in a diary for two weeks.  While the study was taking place, the researchers used psychological and social controls in order to get the best results.  The first level of their analysis was controlled on the individual level with parental monitoring and the student’s personal level of self-motivation.  The second level of analysis was at a situational level, where the researchers observed the student’s possible reasons for participating in the study.  They categorized the students by whether they were participating because they “had to,” “wanted to,” or “had nothing else to do” (page 1).  Before the study was performed, the researchers hypothesized that students who were more self-determined and who felt autonomous would be less bored.  This made them assume that at the situational level, the students who actually wanted to participate in the study would produce the lowest levels of boredom

After the study was performed the researchers were pleased and surprised with the results they found.  As predicted at the situational level, the students who felt they “had to participate” or “had nothing else to do” generated a higher level of boredom.  Those students who “wanted to participate” were more involved in the study and produced lower levels of boredom.  I agreed with the researcher’s hypothesis for this part of the study and found their data to be very accurate.  If you think about it, any person who is motivated to participate in any activity will not find themselves bored with it at any point.  The activity will interest them and will keep them entertained, never causing them to want to do something else.

The next results that were found pertained to social control.  As predicted, the students who felt a lack of autonomy produced higher levels of boredom.  The thing that surprised the researchers the most was the results involving parental monitoring. They predicted that if there was more parental monitoring that the students would experience higher levels of boredom. They found that having a greater presence of parents around actually created lower levels of boredom.  You would think that if someone had their parents around them watching their every move that it would cause them to become frustrated and tired of the activity.  One thing that I believe influenced these surprising results was the age of the students.  The study was done on adolescents who were probably around the age of thirteen.  Children who are this young probably feel more comfortable having their parents around them.  At this age, they most likely have not had much experience with making decisions on their own so having a parent around to help probably made them more engaged with the study.

Although this study found very interesting data about boredom, it basically furthers the theory that boredom is a very complex phenomenon that no one has mastered.  This study is not a waste though.  It does suggest that boredom might be related to the human developmental process.  As adolescents grow older they experience a multitude of different situations.  They find some of these situations boring, but recognizing how that certain situations are boring to them allows for them to understand what they like and dislike.  It helps them identify who they are as a person and will help them with decision making in the future.  For example, knowing which situations make them bored regarding academics will help them tremendously.  If a young student knows that a certain study environment bores them, they will know to avoid it and find a different atmosphere to study in, causing them to study more effectively and get a better grade on their exam.

A Captain Named Crunch

As I was searching for something boring on YouTube, I ended up finding this video named “A Boy Eating Cereal.”  The video is of an adolescent recording himself sitting at a table eating a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal.  The boy does not talk and sits in one place the entire time, so the entertainment value of the video is quite low. From the title of the video I knew that this video was either going to be full of humor or just flat out stupid.  What I ended up finding in this video was a decent mixture of the two that transformed the video from boring and dull, to something that I actually found to be interesting.

In the beginning of the video the humor is shown through the boy’s facial expressions.  You can imagine how hilarious this idea was to the boy when the video first begins to play.  As he takes his first couple bites of Captain Crunch, you can see him trying to fight from bursting out in laughter.  He tries to make himself seem as serious as possible to those watching, but trying to keep a straight face is nearly impossible.  This helps the viewer relate to the boy because we realize just how comical the idea of making this video is.  The boy fighting the urge to laugh kept me entertained and glued to the screen, in anticipation to see if he would finally crack at a certain point.  The boy never ends up laughing, but somehow I remained entertained and kept watching to see what would happen next.

At about the two minute mark the video truly starts to become boring to both the viewer and the boy eating the cereal.  The boy begins to become restless, having to move around in his seat in order to keep himself entertained.  Here you can see that the boy realizes just how boring and stupid of an idea this actually was.  It made me think that the boy was contemplating his decision to follow through with this video.  The boy no longer fights the urge to laugh and does not seem entertained with what he thought was a grand idea.  The action of eating cereal starts to become so repetitive that both the boy and the viewer start to believe that he could be using his time more wisely.

Towards the end of the video it is easy to see that boredom has taken over the boy’s mind.  When a person becomes bored it is easy for their mind to start to wonder, and this video gives the viewer and amazing visual of boredom’s effect on the human mind.  Once the boy is consumed by boredom you can see that he starts thinking about different things.  At some points his face becomes puzzled and at other times he looks as if he just discovered the cure for cancer.  His facial expressions show how much his mind is wandering and also shows how powerful the mind is when engulfed by boredom.  Since the mind wanders it opens up a person imagination and helps them access thoughts that might not have been attainable without boredom present.  It really showed me that even though the human body may be stagnant at times that the mind is always in motion.

I truly find it interesting how quickly boredom can change a person’s actions and state of mind.   This video is only four minutes and twenty seconds and I witnessed the boy experience three different feelings.  He first became amused with his idea of making this video, then extremely bored and somewhat tired of it, and then intrigued with everything his mind could possibly think of.  This shows how powerful boredom is and how much it can affect us.

Modern Day Boredom

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/boredom-can-be-good-for-you.html

Boredom is thought to be a negative experience, associated with those who are lazy or do not know what to do with themselves.  It is also safe to say that teenagers are usually the only ones complaining about how bored they are.  This is still partially true because of teenager’s inability to conform to the repetition that life brings.  The truth is that almost everyone complains about being bored when there is nothing to entertain them all day.  One thing that has remained a constant throughout history is the amount of desire people have to succeed.  This desire to succeed is sometimes overshadowed by the advertisement of crime and unemployment, but even the convicts and unemployed have the desire to succeed in some aspect of their life.

As more people studied the significance of boredom, they found more and more reason why it is actually necessary for human development.  Everything in life has a purpose and the different accounts prior to this paragraph show the purpose of experiencing boredom.  In the article from the link above, Boredom Can Be Good for You, it says that “boredom is, in reality, crucial to any ability to be truly productive, let alone effective” (page 1).  This is true because it takes one becoming tired of a task in order to understand how challenging it actually is.  Understanding how challenging a task is then leads to the realization of how essential it is.  Boredom then makes them realize the amount of hard work that is needed to be put forth in order to achieve success.

As shown in the Captain Crunch video, boredom causes the mind to reflect, another ability that is very essential for achieving success.  When someone becomes so tired with a task they reach a point where they need to stop and think of a better way to complete it.  Reflecting allows for the mind to approach challenges in different ways.  After deciphering through the different approaches, it is easy to make the most efficient decision to complete the task.

People need to understand that the boredom they experience does serve a purpose.  The more that boredom is experience the more the mind develops and the better a person’s decision making skills improve.  Boredom increases autonomy develop and overall human development.

Realizing boredom is important because it indicates that a change is needed to be made.  If a person is bored with something, they are unhappy with their situation and want to change the way they feel.  Boredom allows the mind to open up to new ideas and new possibilities that can make their lives enjoyable.  If a person never got bored with anything, they would remain unhappy and would never progress.  Boredom indicates that there are different ways to get through their difficult situations and allows people to find the most efficient way to succeed.

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by | November 21, 2013 · 1:51 am

The Problem of Boredom

            Boredom is a problem that many people consider to plague Western Civilization today. A pandemic that has spread from coast to coast, Boredom is believed to have wreaked havoc on the productiveness of the general population, decimating motivation and leaving society helpless in the face of mass apathy. But is it not true that Boredom is nothing but an artificial creation formed by modern societies’ insatiable need for stimulation? And if it is true that Boredom has been brought on by our own desires, is it really the problem so many believe it to be?

Are We Special?

As a species as a whole, humans have become increasingly obsessed with the notions of instant gratification and near unending stimulation. Today, nothing remains satisfactory for long, everything can be done better; everything has to be done better. There is no end to modern society’s appetite for improvement, nor is there a limit on how strong our intolerance of a perceived relative lack of activity can become. An inability to maintain some semblance of significance in our lives is a repulsive thought to the vast majority of people. Everyone has innate sense of worth, a sense that we ourselves matter in the world. Because of this, we are constantly looking to others to acknowledge us, to reaffirm the fact that we matter. That is why boredom to some is so terribly unbearable. Boredom can be perceived as lack of importance. For if we mattered, we would never be bored correct? Would there not always be something for us to do? Or more importantly, someone important to us to do those things with? To be truly bored is to be unimportant, to not matter to others to where they do not acknowledge you. This is why we as a society battle so fiercely against this feeling. No one wants to feel inadequate. We all want to be special. It is this desire that makes boredom both one of the worst aspects of society, but at the same time possibly one of the best.

Entertaining Boredom

The modern age has thrived off people’s complete and utter intolerance of boredom. One such example of this is the entertainment culture of the Western world. Whether it be movies, television, video games, music, or even books, entertainment has become one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world. Take for example this article about the company Vitaminwater and how they are capitalizing on contemporary society’s tendency to grow bored. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323324904579041202579456002

Entertainment culture feeds on the escapist tendencies that we all possess. In times of boredom, no one wants to sit complacently and simmer in their perceived lack of importance. So we look to other sources of entertainment to stimulate us. Books, film, and all other forms of media have the innate ability, if crafted carefully enough, to carry us to into new worlds full of fantastical scenarios and endless possibilities. Due to the ever increasing rates of boredom in modern society, the Entertainment industry has boomed exponentially. To be able to forgot about your problems or current lack of activity and instead place yourself in the life of someone more interesting than yourself is an experience many enjoy.

Progress

It is not just simply forms of entertainment that boredom has helped contribute to society though. Boredom has also helped the modern age thrive because of the insatiable hunger for progress it has created. The modern era of technology, for example, has been releasing new advancements in all forms of technology at an unprecedented rate. Year after year there are new cars, new computers, and new phones to buy. This is because people are becoming increasingly more and more dissatisfied with technology at an even faster pace.  We are used to progress occurring at such a ridiculous rate that if it were to slow down by even a second, many would break into a mad frenzy of boredom over whatever form of “outdated” technology they possessed. Even progress itself must see progress. New advancements must come to fruition even faster than the past advancements, lest we fall victim to boredom. It is our dissatisfaction with things as they currently stand that has led to the furthering of modern technology and advancement of human society.

Not only has boredom led progress to occur at a faster rate, but the technology that progress has led to have become faster themselves. Take for example advancements in communication. Only 200 years ago, the fastest any two people could communicate over a large distance were messages delivered by horseback. Since then, forms of communication have been furthered at an alarming rate. From telegraphs to phones, to now the internet itself, communication has advanced to a point unimaginable by our fore fathers, and the biggest advancements have all come within the last 30 odd years or so. All of this, simply because people grew bored and frustrated with the amount of time it took to communicate with someone they were not face to face with. Even today, when a text message or email does not send right away, we quickly become frustrated with the 2 minutes or so wasted, while only a century ago for a message to be sent across the country in 2 minutes would be preposterous.

Pathologically Bored

While boredom has had positive effects on society, that is not to say that it has not come with its own set of issues. There have been cases where, due to an innate tendency to grow bored easily, people have turned to addictive habits to provide them with the kind of stimuli they desire. Take this study done correlating Boredom Proneness and pathological gambling. (http://www.amsciepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2466/pr0.1990.67.1.35)

In the study, researchers had 48 subjects who were classified as pathological gamblers take a set of 4 tests: the Beck Depression Inventory, the Sensation Seeking Scale, the Boredom Proneness Scale, and the Boredom Susceptibility subscale. They compared their results to those of 40 other subjects who were not pathological gamblers nor did they suffer from any other addictive problems. The results that came from this experiment were highly intriguing. While gamblers did score significantly higher on the Beck Depression Inventory and the Boredom Proneness Scale compared to the control group of 40 people, the scores of the Sensation Seeking Scale and the Boredom susceptibility subscale between the two groups were quite close. While it makes sense that both depression and boredom proneness both attribute to pathological gambling, for there to be a clear distinction between those two and sensation seeking and boredom susceptibility tendencies is odd. According to the study, Boredom Susceptibility is a person’s propensity to search out stimuli because of his environment, which makes sense that the Sensation Seeking and Susceptibility tendencies were correlated. Boredom Proneness on the other hand, is defined as “an individual’s intolerance of aversive underaroused states of boredom and/or depression.” So it stands to reason that based on the results of the study, that while pathological gamblers are not actively seeking out stimuli any more so than an unafflicted individual, there complete intolerance to boredom and its relationship to their depression have led them towards self destructive habits such as pathological gambling.

So Smart You’re Bored       

Imagine a young man in his junior year of college. By many he is considered to be highly intelligent. He is knowledgeable in a wide variety of topics and can hold his own in a discussion about any of them. He was a model student all through high school and the first two years of college, but now he finds himself struggling. It is not that the material itself has become too difficult for him to manage, it is just that he can no longer bring himself to do the work. It has become too boring. The tedium of the college grind has worn him down, to the point where he feels apathetic about it all. He no longer feels stimulated by what he is learning, it doesn’t excite him. Thus, he cannot bring himself to care anymore.

            That scenario, as strange as it may seem to some, is an example of boredom and its relationship to intelligence. It has been theorized that boredom itself is a byproduct of intelligence. Humans and other animals with higher functioning brains, such as monkeys, seem to be the only creatures to show signs of boredom after a period of time without any mental stimulation. Because our brains are capable of processing such large amounts of information so quickly, we are quickly able to assess what is happening around us, and thus in boring situations, are able to assess that there is nothing happening around us. Our own intelligence comes with the caveat that we are forever trying to expand our knowledge, lest we become unbearably bored with whatever knowledge we currently have. Human curiosity knows no bounds, and that is both a blessing and a curse.

Boredom is an Adventure

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHMD_EqM61I           

In the movie UP, the first 10 minutes or so centers on the relationship between the main character Carl and the love of his life, Ellie. In the video shown, you see them go through their life together beginning with their wedding. You see them purchase their first home together, an old run down house where they first met. Together, they toil away and bring it back to pristine condition, making it the home they have always dreamed of. They go on with their lives and one day decide to have a child, but discover that Ellie is not able to. Carl, in an attempt to bring her spirits up, promises to take her to the one place they have always dreamed of going, Paradise Falls. Unfortunately, life gets in the way. They are never able to get the money together and instead continue on with their normal, mundane lives. Then sadly in her old age, Ellie passes away, leaving Carl alone to mourn for her. Later in the movie, Carl can be seen holding Ellie’s adventure book, which she had made as a child to document all the amazing adventures she would go on. Looking at it, Carl is racked with guilt that he never got to take her on an adventure to Paradise Falls and help her fill out the rest of the pages. Just as he is about to close the book, a page slips and he sees the book is not as empty as he had once thought. In the section labeled “Stuff I’m Going to Do” he sees pictures. Pictures of their life together. Pictures of the nice, boring little life they shared together. To her, their boring little life that lacked adventure, was an adventure in and of itself.

I guess the point I am trying to make is this. Boredom is only a problem if you make it so. Even Ellie, a girl who loved adventure in her life, was happy in a life without adventure. That is because to her, the life she shared with Carl, as uneventful as it may have been at times, was all the adventure she needed. How we perceive our boredom, and how we choose to react to it, decide whether or not our Boredom is really a problem. Our boredom can become its own adventure.

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Growing Old with Boredom

bored

Boredom is a universal problem.  Ask anyone.  They will tell you stories about their experiences with it.  Everyone faces each day with the possibility of this problem, whether it is at work, home, or anywhere.  There might be multiple occurrences of boredom that day or none at all.  People learn how to deal with these situations throughout their life.  They first discover this feeling during childhood.  Children have a need for constant entertainment.  They spend their days outside with friends, running around and releasing built up energy.  When they play inside, they have toys, movies, and games to occupy the time.  After a while, these activities get repetitive and uninteresting.  Unfortunately, children do not know how to deal with finding ways to stop boredom.  They have to learn this on their own as certain ways work better for some than for others.  These situations happen more and more as they grow older.

I recall a moment in my childhood when I felt bored out of my mind.  Other children probably faced the same problem.  When you think Christmas, you feel happiness and cheer, not impatient and bored.  That is exactly how I felt one Christmas Eve.  That night, my parents decided we should all go to bed early.  The clock only shows 9 p.m.  I feel wide awake, but we all climb up the steps, enter our rooms, and climb into bed.  After my parents say goodnight and close the door tight, I close my eyes and hope Christmas comes quickly.  Unfortunately, I lay there, unable to go to sleep.  After keeping my eyes close for a while, I check the clock.  It is only 9:30 p.m.  I begin to think I might never fall asleep.  I feel too excited and riled up to be able to sleep, and closing my eyes just makes the time pass slower.  I decided to keep my eyes open and find other ways to entertain myself.  I get out of bed, grab a book off my shelf, and turn on the lamp.  I always get entranced in my books.  However, not even 10 pages into the story, I close the book with a sigh and place it back on the shelf.  I cannot focus on anything other than opening presents tomorrow, but it will be hours before I can wake my parents up.  I decide to play on my DS and hope it keeps my attention for a few hours.  Unfortunately, my DS shuts off shortly after I start playing and I forgot the charger downstairs.

With nothing else to occupy the time, I fall back down onto my bed and stare at the ceiling.  Around this point, my impatience starts to overtake all my thoughts.  I try to imagine what presents I will receive, but that makes me long for the morning even more.  I find myself unable to come up with anything else but Christmas.  I turn towards the clock and it is only 11:50 p.m.   I cringe at the time as I have to wait 9 more hours until I go downstairs.  I still feel wide-awake.  At this point, I start to lose hope.  With everyone else asleep, I cannot find other ways to pass the time.  All I can do is lay under the covers and look around my dark room.  After a while, I feel more impatient and bored.  I can no longer lay still, so I sit up and move around on my bed quietly.  I stretch and sit in different positions.  Eventually, I get tired and stop.  I look at the clock once again, hitting myself as I do.  The clock shows it is only 2:00 a.m.  With six more hours to go, I feel even more anxious.  I get under my covers and close my eyes.  I will myself to keep them shut until I fall asleep.  I even try counting sheep for the first time.  As the minutes seem to tick by at an agonizing pace, I strain to keep my eyes closed.  Boredom begins to overwhelm me.  I think about giving up.  I decided to relax my eyes and let things be.  Finally, I fall asleep after hours of restlessness.  I wake up to the sound of my brother opening my door.  Upon seeing him, I flip onto my side and peer at the clock.  7:30 a.m.  All the anxiety and impatient I let build up that night drain out of me.  I only have to wait a half hour to wake up my parents, and I do not have to wait alone.  My battle with boredom seems to be just a long nightmare.

After that experience, I look for new ways to occupy myself at night.  I come up with different ideas to try out.  I learn which activities keep my attention the longest and those where my eyes stray away.  I start applying what I learn to situations of boredom, and eventually, I begin feel this emotion less and less.  As I grow up, I gain more responsibilities.  With more work, I have less time for inactivity and the chance of boredom.  It never fully goes away as it is an unavoidable part of life.

After childhood, people still face the problem of being bored.  They might have bigger responsibilities and less time for relaxation, but boredom strikes anywhere.  People face this problem at their jobs. An article from Psychology Today focuses on how to deal with boredom at work.  It states that people concentrate on the hours of their work day.  If they concern themselves with the time, it makes the work day pass by slower.  A way to remedy this is pay more attention to the tasks for the day.  If a worker focuses more on getting the tasks done, time passes by faster.  People should also motivate themselves to keep busy and feel proud about doing things right.  This allows you to enjoy your job more and keep boredom away from the office.

Here is the article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201201/coping-boredom-work

After work, people can still become bored.  There are only a few things to do to pass the time: read the newspaper, watch T.V., eat, etc.  Eventually, these activities become repetitive.  So, how do they fight off boredom at home?  An American philosopher thought of one such way.  Harry Frankfurt wrote about how to beat boredom.  He believed that in order to not be bored, you must care about something.  If you have something important to you, such as loved ones, pets, activities, etc., you will never find yourself uninterested.  You care about certain aspects of your life because you find them fascinating and entertaining.  They captivate you for long periods of time over and over.  I find this to be true.  I have things I care about.  Whenever I find myself uninterested and bored, I fill in the time with what I love.  For example, I pick up a book.  I find them so interesting.  Whenever I start to read, it sucks me in and all my attention focuses on the story and the characters.  I never feel bored when I read.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a new book or one that I read before.  I discover something new each time I open it.

As time passes, people find themselves interested in other things.  They discover something new to care about.  This process happens over the years as people continue to change.  Once you lose interest in something once important to you, another one appears soon after.  As long as you have something to care about, you will have something fun to do and never become bored.  So, always look for new interests.  Try different activities and figure out the most exciting ones.  Keep your mind open to new things and ideas.  Allow yourself to develop interest in many things.

Once people reach the age where their children started their own families and they retire from a job they held for many years, they gain much more free time.  With no children in the house, they can relax and focus on taking care of themselves.  They stay inside the house more and rest.  They have time with their grandchildren and children to look forward to, but they will not always be available.  There will be plenty of quiet and uneventful days throughout the year.  Eventually, this period of inactivity becomes repetitive and boring.  Nothing exciting happens in their lives anymore.  They spend most of their day inside, either cleaning or sitting down and watching T.V.  They find themselves with more time on their hands than they are used to.  They do not know how to pass the time.  So, how can they bring excitement back into their lives after retirement?

In an article from The Wall Street Journal, The Experts talk about ways to avoid boredom in retirement.  One of the main points they emphasize is action.  Get out there and do something constructive, enjoyable or that you always wanted to do.  Do not just sit around in your house.  Use your newly found free time and have fun.  There are many things people in retirement can do.  They just have to get out there and explore.  Once they find things they enjoy, they will find themselves less bored.  They should also exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  A healthy body makes a healthy mind.  This will positively impact their outlook on life.  This allows them to push themselves to change their life and start discovering new places and activities.  If people follow these ideas every day, then boredom will slowly dissipate from their mind.

Here is the full article: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323415304578370270527673456

Boredom affects people of all ages.  During any part of your life, you will have moments of inactivity.  Because of that, people have learned different ways of dealing with it.  Children have toys, games, movies, and other creative activities.  Adults keep busy and motivate themselves at work.  They also find things they care about.  The elderly explore new activities, keep active, and get involved in things they enjoy.  There are many more solutions to be found as people have different interests.  They also keep discovering new ways of entertainment.  As long as they find something interesting that keeps them occupied during their leisure time, they will be able to alleviate their boredom.

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Boredom is a Dangerous Thing

Introduction:

Boredom in the modern age has become a constant presence in many people’s lives, and it is something that people unceasingly seek to eradicate with any number of sources of entertainment. Television, movies, video games, books, and music are all common aids to combat boredom, but sometimes it gets taken to extremes and people engage in dangerous activities to avoid the dull unpleasantness of long stretches of being bored. This attitude that boredom must be avoided at all costs is a very destructive one, which can lead to personal injury or death and stretch out to putting other people in danger.

“Enlightenment”:

http://www.dailymotion.com/playlist/x2s5w6_greendude33_season-20-enlightenment-127/1#video=x12xfkp

The Doctor Who TV story entitled “Enlightenment” features a race of immortal beings known as Eternals who are engaged in a race through the solar system using modified human sailing vessels from different periods of history. The ships have human crews, removed from their own times and taken into space for the entertainment of the Eternals. It is revealed that the Eternals have lived for so long that they can no longer truly think for themselves and that they rely on humans and other “Ephemerals” to give them new ideas and provide entertainment. The prize for winning the race is Enlightenment, which is described as being the wisdom to know everything. The Eternals are interested in Enlightenment because they are bored, and granted with the power to know everything will provide them endless opportunities for entertainment. One Eternal, Captain Wrack, specifically states that she is interested in Enlightenment because of how it will let her destroy things and people. The Eternals, while obviously an extreme example, embody the philosophy of eliminating boredom at all costs. They abduct people from their own times and homes and exploit them for their own entertainment. The humans aboard the ships are nothing more than expendable slaves being used to the end of winning a race. The Eternals have no concern for the humans’ well-being, and if one of them dies, the Eternals write it off as “just another Ephemeral.” Not only are they being harmful in abducting and killing people for the sake of a race, but their end goal of being granted Enlightenment is inherently harmful too, as they will inevitably use that power for destruction, whether because they find it fun or because it is a last ditch effort to stave off boredom. While humans do not (and quite frankly cannot) go to this absurd of an extreme to keep from being bored, we do crave a constant flow of entertainment and find a break in that to be irritating at the least.

“Phobos”:

http://www.4shared.com/mp3/K9DeDSox/0705_-_Phobos.html

Another Doctor Who story that addresses this philosophy on boredom is an audio drama called “Phobos.” Humans have started using Mars’ moon, Phobos, as a sort of natural extreme sports park. One attraction in particular is the supposedly bottomless pit that people bungee jump into. One character explains that he is using a random length of bungee cord because the thrill of jumping into the pit involves the very real fear of legitimately not knowing if you are going to die or not. The other activities on Phobos are equally as insanely dangerous and potentially lethal. These people are apparently so bored with their lives that they are more than willing risk a very gruesome death just for some thrills. In fact, they are legitimately excited about that possibility, which is incredibly troubling. It is worth noting that the main antagonist in this story is an ancient being who feeds on fear. Pure, genuine fear is poisonous to it, so it feeds instead on the thrilling fear that people experience at the Lunar Park on Phobos. This means that people are literally inducing fear in themselves to alleviate boredom. This happens in real life too, though again to less of an extreme. Haunted houses, thrill rides, horror movies, and extreme sports are all activities that by all rights can be legitimately terrifying, and yet people engage these things because the stimulation afforded by being afraid is more palatable to the average person than being bored is.

Sensation Seeking:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457501000549

A study from 2002 at Bar-Ilan University in Israel analyzed risky behavior associated with driving in relation to sensation seeking. The study involved a group of seven-year-olds, a group of thirteen-year-olds, and a group of twenty-two-year-olds, both male and female. All were judged based on a couple different scales, one of which was boredom susceptibility, and the other being thrill and adventure seeking. Boredom susceptibility peaked in the thirteen-year-olds, while thrill and adventure seeking rose with age. One of the tests done involved showing the subjects a film of cars merging in a busy street, and then asking them to identify whether or not a warning signal sound (a car screeching to a halt behind them) was present. Age and gender did not appear to have any impact on the results, with the exception of thirteen-year-old boys, the subgroup with the highest boredom susceptibility, for whom giving the wrong response was directly correlated to boredom susceptibility. Another test had the experimenter position the subject on one side of a busy street in a suburb of Tel Aviv and had the subject judge whether or not it would be safe to cross at various points in time. There was no clear-cut relationship to the boredom susceptibility of the subjects, but teenage boys (who had the highest boredom susceptibility on average) seemed more willing to take risk than younger boys or teenage girls. The males took more risks with age while the females became more cautious. The study points out that there were some flaws in some of the personality testing, and that aspects of it require some more empirical analysis, but on the whole reliability seems to be decent. This study suggests, tangentially at least, that the more susceptible to boredom a person is, the more likely they are to take risks on the road. In some respect then we can assume somewhat that boredom is one of the causes of reckless behavior involving cars.

Suicide:

http://dd-latte.deviantart.com/art/BBC-Sherlock-When-He-s-Bored-RAINBOWWW-295111951

BBC Sherlock - When He's Bored RAINBOWWW by DD-Latte

This picture is the third Google Image search result for “bored.” While the picture is intended to be a humorous reference (tasteless as that humor may be) to how melodramatic Sherlock Holmes gets about being bored in the BBC’s crime drama Sherlock, it is interesting to note that the artist makes boredom out to be a viable rationale for hanging oneself. Modern life has gotten to a point where it essentially revolves around not being bored. We spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to avoid boredom. Amusement parks, smart phones, portable music devices, e-readers, in-flight movies, video games (especially handheld gaming devices), movie theaters, and many more fixtures of modern life are directly responsible for constantly keeping boredom at bay. We have such a fixation on not being bored, that when things do start to get a bit dull it feels like the end of the world. And since our lives are so overwhelmingly full of stimuli vying for our attention, those stimuli then become boring. People grow tired of being constantly bombarded with information. It is unsurprising that in an extremely fast-paced society like ours, chronic boredom can result in a lot of suicidal thoughts. A recent trend related to boredom which relates to accidental suicides is teenagers who choke themselves to get high, but end up accidentally strangling themselves to death. These kids are literally killing themselves for a momentary feeling of euphoria, which can ultimately only be the result of being extremely bored. People react very strongly to boredom, and unfortunately that can sometimes result in taking one’s own life.

Murder:

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/boredom-blamed-murders-true-killing-impulse-6C10963043

Boredom also seems to be a motivator for murder. In fact, murder being attributed to boredom is more common than suicide is. Some psychologists and other professionals take issue with the confession of boredom being a motive, because that means there is something inherently exciting or fun about killing to these people, which could point to deeper psychological problems. While that may very well be the case, the fact of the matter is that boredom is not an uncommon motivation for murderers to cite, so there must be something to it. This may very well be tied to the concept of fear being used to alleviate boredom. Taking another life would be a high-adrenaline situation, and the stress of that act would certainly get rid of any boredom a person might have been feeling. If someone was extremely chronically bored and had a lack of empathy toward others, then it does not seem too terribly outlandish that they would turn to murder for fun. The psychologists are almost certainly right about the killers who claim boredom as their motive having some sort of mental disorder, but that does not necessarily mean that boredom was not their motive as some would suggest. It simply means that they handle boredom differently from how able-minded people do.

Conclusion:

Boredom in the modern age appears to be the cause of a lot of harmful behaviors, be they in fiction or in reality. Murder, suicide (both intentional and accidental), reckless driving habits, and other various risky behaviors all manifest as a result of being bored in some capacity. Focusing on eliminating boredom as our culture does, we as a society are trying to prevent ourselves from getting so bored that we have to resort to being dangers to ourselves and to others, and yet that is exactly what this system we have in place causes. Relief from boredom is a never-ending cycle of dangerous and destructive behaviors just for a laugh, which is probably a terrifying thought for anyone who bores easily.

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Boredom is Ambitious

Boredom: Humanity’s Greatest Invention

               It is clear where boredom sprouts from. Lack of stimulation—long lines, monotony, the absence of challenge, bad movies by bad comedians (I will never let that go, Ricky Gervais), among others. Yet seldom do we consider that boredom may be the greatest thing that a human can have. It may seem like a curse that we defined the concept of boredom in the 19th century, but there is a positive outcome that we overlook. Oftentimes boredom leads us to try new things until we find something that holds our interest enough that it allows us to overcome that boredom. Boredom actually drives people to find their passion, which then allows for ambition. Boredom is, in fact, marked by a lack of ambition. (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00223989909599743) The scholarly article that describes its findings on boredom proneness describes a person who is prone to boredom as lacking ambition, and rightfully so. The researchers understand that people who pursue things that are meaningful to them and have an ultimate goal regarding that meaningful thing are less likely to be bored, because they are focused on their improvement and advancement toward their goal. There is no time for them to be bored since they are constantly looking to advance. The thrill gained from advancement is the key element that allows for advancement in society. Innovations arise, achievements are made—but more importantly, boredom is conquered.

However, boredom guides us toward more than just discovering a single goal in life. It spurs us to seek new things—new knowledge, new wisdom, new friends, new hobbies. By spurring our drive to explore the unknown, we are kicked off the couch and pushed toward action. Before we may flee from boredom, we are required to embrace the new. If we never attempt to explore new concepts, it is unlikely that we can ever find our ambitions in the first place.

We must explore the new. If one decides to remain close-minded to new interests, what remains after you achieve your one interest? Perhaps you will be content with remaining at the top. Perhaps you will be content with having no one else to compete with, to continue growing when you are already the greatest and the most prominent of them all. But even Michael Jordan wasn’t content with being one of the best. He shocked everyone when he first retired from basketball—and right after, he began playing baseball. He kept an open mind to his interests and didn’t restrict himself to an inactive life after retirement. Alternatively, what if you never found an ambition in the first place because you were never willing to explore the possibilities around you? Instead, you grew content with the monotony of an average life and an average existence. Your existence becomes centered on something else—money, fame, comfort; boredom becomes a typical emotion and something to cope with in everyday life, rather than to overcome. This is why we must try new things, so that we may find something new to get caught up with and a new obsession. There is a short comic (http://thisisnthappiness.com/post/66623861491/you-only-live-eleven-times) that describes how, by pursuing our multiple interests, our life can be made up of multiple different lives. We do not need to become content with one lifestyle that becomes monotonous with time. We should not limit ourselves to a single thing in life, but strive to experience as much as we possibly can by pursuing our multiple interests as seriously as we can.

Although the comic shows that these multiple lifetimes involve learning something new, this is not necessarily true. A lifetime can be spend being dedicated to something—dedication is a form of ambition, as well. Sometimes it is forgotten that ambition does not necessarily entail the desire to be the best. Sometimes it is having a focus for which we want to pour in our hard work. Namely, love. Dedicate several years to loving someone deeply, dedicate several years to getting to know someone as much as possible. Love is yet another escape from boredom. Each love provides an opportunity to experience the world through another lens; to love only one person may reduce this experience to only one other experience. The thrill in love in tied with having new experiences—yet, any experience is a new one when experienced with someone you love. Even old experiences are new, because you can view them in a new perspective. Perhaps this is why people consider having one love all your life to be boring, because it lessens the number of new perspectives that you can experience. Yet, if we consider that everyone has eleven lifetimes in one life, you can even experience twenty-two lifetimes with only a single partner for life.

So what significance does this have? Is the best possible life led by an ambitious person in love? This thought causes certain questions to arise. Ambition aside, how much do you have to have achieved before you become bored? How in love do you have to be before it gets boring? The struggle for the top and the experience of deep love are typically experienced by people in their late twenties. These are people who are not yet worried about raising a family, but are invested in their work and are involved in relationships with the intention of finding a life-long partner. It is when a person’s ambition is at its peak because less has been achieved by this person in comparison to older individuals. It is when a person is still in the process of getting to truly know his or her partner. It is interesting to consider that this is why older people are so fond of youth, that it is because it is generally this stage in life during which the least amount of boredom is experienced.

Boredom in Love

If love is a form of ambition, infatuation counts as a method used to attempt to overcome boredom. When we are bored, we are more prone to becoming infatuated with a person. This infatuation takes up the space in our minds, overwriting the boredom. In Mulan, the soldiers think about love and marriage to overcome the boredom of travelling to their destination. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiqmZLOaD8o) It serves to pass the time, these trivial yet consuming thoughts. Though it is not quite as strong of a feeling, this video shows that infatuation serves as a desire and creates a goal that vanquishes boredom. They experience a light-hearted feeling and the thoughts are quite frivolous.

I can relate to these soldiers, as I had a moment of infatuation in my workplace in October. I had just started working in the school’s cafeteria for several weeks, and work was boring. I wiped tables, and it was insufferably cruel. Walking around in circles cleaning tables that had already been cleaned—yet, clean I must since the managers were mostly watching and there was nothing else to do but be perfectionist in terms of cleanliness.

               In the midst of my boredom, I found myself infatuated with a co-worker of mine. It served as a wonderful distraction from the boredom of my work; time that was originally spent zoning out was then spent wondering what to talk about with him, picking apart every little thing he said, and trying not to trip or look foolish when I walked past. In hindsight, it was clearly a very foolish infatuation. However, it was very effective for me in overcoming the boredom that I was experiencing at work. As soon as the infatuation wore off, the boredom returned as quickly as it had left.

Adolescent Ambition

Adolescents attempt ambition in their desire to overcome boredom. They are trapped between the child’s mindset of finding everything interesting and the adult mind that has determined how to handle boredom in life. Boredom is relatively new to them, so they feel it even more acutely. Adolescents are prone to infatuation and many attempt to participate in extracurricular activities apart from their education in order to satisfy their varied interests. For some activities, this ambition is limited—an athletic career that lasts only for the four years of high school, or acting as the student council president, or dating a high-school sweetheart. These goals in high school do not always carry on into their older age, because they only exist as limited opportunities in their current environment.

College students likely say that high school was less interesting because there is a wider range of potential experiences to try in college. There are more people to meet, and an ultimate goal to achieve. Rather than aiming to study solely for good grades, college students begin studying in preparation for their future career. Their classes pose more interest to them because they are related to their major that they chose for themselves. High school students have little control over their boredom, and fall into acceptance that it is part of life. High school is the time of dreams—it is four years that shapes students into either dreamers or conformists. By the fourth year, students are divided into two groups: those who decide to pursue their desires or and those who never even began to try.

Part-time Job

It didn’t matter that her classmates and friends thought that her job was boring. Didn’t matter that there was no one her age to talk to, or that all she did was sort books for sixteen hours a week. It was her first paid job ever, and she was determined to be the best, quickest book sorter in that the Monroe Public Library had ever had in its 64-year history. No, the best in all of the East Coast. She would aim higher, but she liked to stay grounded to reality.

               She sorted the books so quickly that the covers of children’s books were mere flashes of color before her, recipe books looked like a 30-mph moving buffet line, and science textbooks were a rapid succession of images of frog-tree-skeleton-frog-fern-parrot-microscope.

               She ran down the aisles of bookshelves with her full book cart, moving at maximum speed. Often nearly toppling over or ramming into a customer. A manager would walk by and she would slow her pace to half-speed, but quickly resume running once she was out of sight. She would be the best! The sleepy little library and with its dim lighting was no longer the boring world that it was in her childhood—now, it was a racetrack, and her competition was one-third of the country’s population.

Climb as High as You Can Dream

http://files.sharenator.com/ambition_motivational_posters_useless_as_if_a_fat_1_The_Top_5_Things_Everyone_Loves-s750x600-41535-580.jpg

Do not fall into that trap. Do not listen to what others tell you. Focus on your extracurricular activities. Focus on what you love. Pursue your ambitions while you are young, elsewise you eventually find yourself in a desk job stapling papers. Do extraordinary things, be extraordinary—take that boredom and destroy it with your own two hands. Do not live alongside it whilst you pretend to enjoy your mundane life.

Be inspired by the clichéd motivational posters, and cast aside the cynicism that surrounds ambition in today’s society. People value safety and comfort over failure and determination in this age of the internet—they are satisfied with a boring life. But you—you are different.

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