Acting Out of Boredom

The first thought that comes to mind when thinking about boredom may be uninteresting or unproductive.  You may even consider the effect boredom has on individuals like depression or misbehaving.  There seems to be an obvious connection between being bored and disobedience in school and society.  Often misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder or another condition, boredom can lead people into a dark path of destruction.  Doing the opposite of what is expected is the ultimate cure for the monotony of life.  The thrills and risks associated provide a way to escape the repetition.  Although, true feelings of sadness, anxiety, or anger may be what is bottled up with “boredom” as the label.

Mommy, I’m Bored

(Start at .44, Stop at 1:35)

The phrase, “I’m bored” is used more frequently today than “please” and “thank you,” especially by children.  We all know of a kid who is perfectly well-behaved at home.  He does his chores, gets along with his siblings, and never disobey his parents’ rules.  Then, the unthinkable happens.  He disrupts his class at school, has to go see the principal and gets detention.  How can a kid so sweet and obedient at home go to school and act like a monster?  Let’s ask my cousin.

Alex has always been very intelligent, although he never quite knew where to channel it.  In school, he would receive a worksheet full of algebra problems.  Without even going through the steps to solve the problem, he would know the answer.  Answer after answer, he would solve, finishing before every other student in the class.  Instead of sitting quietly until all papers were turned in, Alex would alleviate his boredom and his classmates’ struggles by possibly throwing a pencil across the room, talking to Billy who sits on the far corner, or kicking the back of Olivia’s chair.  At first he was tested for ADHD, doctors realized he was so ahead of the material taught in class that he got bored very easily and did not know everyone else wasn’t.

I Have a Case of Boredom

I had an appointment at the doctor’s office today.  Little did I know, I was called back to the exam room to wait for the doctor for two hours.  The first thirty minutes went by quickly.  I was snapchatting, texting, and looking over my calendar for next month, but there are only so many weeks you can plan ahead.  (Technology usage due to boredom is a different topic.)  The next half hour was excruciatingly boring.  I learned all about UPMC For Life’s Medicare plan and read the “Cover Your Cough” poster at least a dozen times.  “Make sure to cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve if a tissue is not available.”  I marveled at the lovely view of the brick building right outside of the window for about ten minutes, while the annoying water from the sink dripped in a precise rhythm.  I had plenty of time to think how unproductive the trip had been.  I contemplated taking a nap on the exam bed.  At least, I would have been doing something I needed to do.  The remainder of my wait time was spent knowing I was not being seen any time soon.  I was out of ideas to keep from going insane, so I clothed myself in the hospital dresses hanging in the room, mimicked every voice I heard outside of my room, and moved the bed up and down with the controller.  I hopped off of the bed and rolled around in the swivel chair that only the doctor uses.  I also may or may not have stolen latex gloves and tongue depressors to take to my dorm.  My boredom led me to do things I normally would not have done.  I sure hope they don’t have cameras in there.

Boredom, She Wrote

With American society always needing higher and higher stimulation, boredom runs rampant.  Usually as a daily activity, being bored goes unnoticed, although extreme forms can have major consequences.  Boredom can often lead to adultery, abandonment, substance abuse, and petty crimes, but recently murders have been committed with boredom as their motivation. Christopher Lane went for a jog around Duncan, Oklahoma after flying from Australia.  Without warning, three teenagers shot Christopher from their car that followed.  The police were not far behind in arresting and getting statements from the three involved.  Their motive, “We were bored.”  James Edwards, Chancey Luna, and Michael Jones could all possibly face a lifetime in prison.  I high price to pay for a few hours of boredom.

Duncan, Oklahoma is a quiet town where poverty and boredom is prevalent, according to the mother of one of the suspects.  Mr. Luna would often complain to his mother about not having anything to do.  The three suspects spent their summer watching television, playing video games, and smoking marijuana.  None of them had regular jobs, leaving many idle hours to spend in their apartments.  They could not sit in the same room watching the same TV show any longer.  The boys drove around Duncan as Christopher Lane passed their car.  One of the boys said, “There is our target.”  With that, a .22 caliber round was shot at Lane’s back.  “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody,” was the statement that the suspects view as justification and the statement that the rest of the world views as absolutely terrifying.

“Boredom, Thrill Kill and the Media” Commentary

            Boredom is just a mask covering unconscious, inner feelings, according to psychiatrist, George Drinka.  Drinka presents an entirely new, more psychological theory associated with being bored.  He identifies the word, bored as a scapegoat, a catchall, a cover-up for undesirable emotions, such as anger, despair, and rage.  Drinka goes deeper and believes behind those emotions are feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.  People are so desperately attempting to avoid or escape these feelings that they trick their mind into being bored.  It is a form of denial and considered a defense mechanism.

Boredom is misused.  It actually refers to emptiness, an inner void that is not obvious on the surface.  This vacancy also explains that lack of incentive and ambition.  To hide these unspeakable reactions known as boredom, people participate in things that will provide excitement, humor, and risk.

George Drinka provided an explanation of the three teens who murdered Christopher Lane.  He did not believe they were bored, but instead used that word to describe their uneasiness.  The shooting occurred at the end of the summer before the boys had to return to high school where everyone is in constant competition with each other.  The tragedy would have been very unlikely if only one of the boys had spotted Lane, but since they acted in a group, peer pressure was an expected culprit of violence.  The town where they grew up, the television shows they watched, the music they listened to, and the celebrities they admired were all involved in the homicide.  Aspiring to be a gangster with a thug attitude, the boys mimicked what they have seen and heard from their “online peer group.”

George Drinka is correct in my opinion.  The word, bored and all words associated are overused in society today.  It previously has been a sin to not have anything holding your attention when God created so many miracles to appreciate.  Now, we throw around the feeling of boredom every day, because we think we have nothing to do.  There is always something to do and we are just fooling ourselves if we think there isn’t.  When I say that I am bored, there is not anything I want to do at that moment, but something always can be done.

Boredom is definitely a word that people say, but do not actually know what it means.  Being bored is defined as “feeling weary because one is unoccupied,” but many times it is the word to describe sadness and depression, anxiety and concern.  I think people are afraid to say how they really feel, so they use the socially acceptable emotion of boredom to make themselves and others feel better, just as George Drinka wrote.  Boredom is instead an excuse, rather than an emotion.

Underneath The Boredom Façade

            To confirm if George Drinka is actually correct with his “no one is actually bored” theory, it is helpful to examine the pasts of the three suspects.  They have been dealing with poverty, abandonment, and death masked by boredom.

James Edward’s father was a maintenance man for Elm Terrace Apartments where James and his friends spent much of their time.  James lived with his father while his mother was locked in prison for 2010 parole violation.  Other kids would taunt James about his mother and tell him he would turn out like her.  Because of this, he got into fights, was suspended from school, and had run-ins with the police.  He not only fought with other students, but he and his father would have disagreements, prompting James to stay at his friends’ houses.  He became especially close to Ms. Luna, the mother of one of the suspects.  He would call her “mom,” tell her he loved her, and express that he felt unloved by his father.  Ms. Luna ended up kicking him out of her house once he threatened to shoot her oldest son.  James Edwards was a talented wrestler with dreams of competing in the Olympics.  He also wrote and recorded rap songs with his friends.  Unfortunately, his goals pertaining to wrestling and music soon diminished when he was charged as a juvenile with assault and battery, was suspended for posting pictures to Facebook of a student in the bathroom, and stole a cellphone resulting in a larceny charge.  James Edwards was left bitter and unhappy with who he had become.

Similar to Mr. Edwards, Chancey Luna had a history of fighting, dropped out of school, and talked about enlisting in the Army.  Mr. Luna seemed to never truly have a home as he moved in and out of relatives’ homes.  He was told to leave his aunt and uncle’s house for smoking marijuana.  His rebellion may have come from the death of two of his relatives.  Chancey fell into depression after the loss of his 25-year-old half-brother.

Michael Jones did not have a strong family unit and stayed with his grandparents most of the time.  He was going to have a family of his own after his 16-year-old girlfriend gave birth to their child.  Mr. Jones enjoyed wrestling, fishing, and drumming, and school was not a priority.  Michael was held back twice and decided to leave school to study for his G.E.D.  He wanted to become an auto mechanic, but before he got a job, he did whatever he could to make money.  One of his strategies was stealing air conditioning units from houses around the neighborhood.  It seemed as if the lack of guidance from his estranged parents made a large impact on Mr. Jones.

All three boys lacked a solid home and a loving family.  The void that this created may be what they describe as boredom, but instead it is loneliness, uselessness, and despair that causes them to rebel against society’s rules.


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