Boredom is the situation when the environment is dull, tedious, and doesn’t offer motivation. Anxiety is inherent in boredom; people go to any extent to remedy or prevent it. If sleeping and daydreaming are common passive ways to cope with boredom, looking for new and unfamiliar challenges such as puzzles, crosswords, or creative games are the active forms of boredom management.
Boredom is associated with failure of attention and also to depressive symptoms. Some people are more prone to boredom than others; they are thus, also more susceptible to depression.
In educational set up lack of understanding is the common cause of boredom. If you don’t follow the lecture material you will be bored. However, the opposite can also be true; if the topic is too easy or trivial you again lose interest and get bored. Thus, boredom is closely related to challenge; either there is not enough challenge or too much of it.
Much of the research on boredom has focused on the bad company it keeps – from depression, overeating, smoking, drugs, etc. So, it is not wrong to say that most of the studies have been co-relational rather than studying the mental state of boredom.
After studying decades of research on boredom, Teresa Belton and Esther Priyadharshini ofEast Anglia University in England concluded that it’s time that boredom “be recognized as a legitimate human emotion that can be central to learning and creativity.” Boredom is more than just flagging of interest or a precursor to mischief – it is a time out to recast the outside world in ways that can be productive and creative. It is a tool for sorting information — a sensitive spam filter.
When boredom is a temporary state it reflects the obvious – that the brain has concluded there is nothing new, interesting, or useful in the current activity. When bored the brain withdraws but does not become passive. In this state of withdrawal time appears to drag on than when the mind is absorbed. Unlike the self imposed boredom of repetitive activity of meditation, in the routine life it is frustrating and restless. This makes boredom a state that demands relief – if not from a conversation, then from some mental challenge. Thus, there is opportunity in boredom.
Military boredom has been studied since World War II by a variety of researchers – a common conclusion is that boredom leads to alienation, followed by resentment and anger.
Boredom in Modern Life
Boredom appears to be the ubiquitous driving force of modern life. It, of course, does not attract people but repels them into non-stop action.
“By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed.” – Lewis Mumford
How often we start checking emails when we are not busy, just to keep busy? Or rush to twitter, facebook, or some other social media sites and start posting messages? Or how many times call friends just to talk – aimlessly?
We certainly like doing such things but what purpose do they actually serve?
There are certainly situations when we must respond to mails or send messages. But studies show that we indulge in such activities just to keep busy and avoid boredom. In fact, we engage in many things because we just can’t sit quiet. This is the typical lifestyle of people living in this digital world – the fear of boredom drives it.
5 Boredom Quotes
“The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.” — Saul Steinberg
“Extreme boredom provides its own antidote.” — Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld
“If you get bored with the person you married for love, there’s something wrong with you – not with that person.” — Shahrukh Khan
“Never underestimate the determination of a kid who is time-rich and cash-poor.” — Cory Doctorow (Little Brother)
“When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.” — Eric Hoffer