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Posts Tagged ‘boredom’

I’m Boooooored! (Thank Heaven)

In behavior, culture, education, entertainment, Media, parenting, Technology on December 31, 2010 at 1:05 pm
Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt D...

I have to wait to be happy? Really????? Image via Wikipedia

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, a recent conference was designed to be dull:

Boring 2010 is the handiwork of James Ward, 29 years old, who works for a DVD distribution and production company. In his other life, as the envoy of ennui, Mr. Ward edits a blog called “I Like Boring Things.” He is also co-founder of the Stationery Club, whose 45 members meet occasionally to discuss pens, paper clips and Post-it Notes.

For another of his projects, Mr. Ward over the past 18 months has visited 160 London convenience stores and made careful notes about a popular chocolate bar called Twirl, including the product’s availability, price and storage conditions. He publishes the details online.

Boredom has become a serious subject for scientific inquiry. For example, a 25-year study of British civil servants published earlier this year found that some people really can be bored to death: People who complain about “high levels” of boredom in their lives are at double the risk of dying from a stroke or heart disease, the study concluded.

The “Boring Institute,” in South Orange, N.J., started as a spoof. Its website says it now plays a more serious role describing “the dangers that are associated with too much boredom and offers advice on how to avoid it.”

Contrast this European lassitude with the go-go-gotta-keep-‘em-happy machinations at Disney World, as reported in The New York Times:

To handle over 30 million annual visitors — many of them during this busiest time of year for the megaresort — Disney World long ago turned the art of crowd control into a science. But the putative Happiest Place on Earth has decided it must figure out how to quicken the pace even more. A cultural shift toward impatience — fed by video games and smartphones — is demanding it, park managers say. To stay relevant to the entertain-me-right-this-second generation, Disney must evolve.

And so it has spent the last year outfitting an underground, nerve center to address that most low-tech of problems, the wait. Located under Cinderella Castle, the new center uses video cameras, computer programs, digital park maps and other whiz-bang tools to spot gridlock before it forms and deploy countermeasures in real time.

Give. Me. A. Break.

Seriously. Once you have passed the age of, say, five or maybe seven, it’s not the world’s job to entertain us 24/7. No, really, it’s not!

I do not have children so have been blessedly spared the arms race to keep the little ones perpetually stimulated with DVDs in the car, in their laps, anywhere they might actually have to sit still, alone, in silence for a while. Horrors!

I grew up an only child and, like many of my ilk, learned very young to play on my own, to amuse myself without technology or TV or the endless distractions of other people’s attention and interaction.

This is a Very Good Thing.

I feel nothing but pity now for anyone at any level of the educational system who must cope with children, and the adults they grow into, who are now chronically incapable of silence, solitude, patience and unaided thought.

Ideas come when we have the time, space and — yes — boredom — to think, to ruminate, to reflect and make connections.

One of my favorite recent books is this one, “Distracted” by Maggie Jackson. She makes, I think, a cogent and compelling argument against hyperactivity, multi-tasking and CPA, the scourge of our age. Continuous Partial Attention was named back in 1998, long before life meant all-interaction-all-the-time.

I love allowing myself to get bored.

When I say “I’m bored” it almost always really means I’m frustrated. Then I go figure out why.

How about you?

Bored To Death? It Can Happen

In behavior, Health on February 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm
Coto yawning

Image by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr

Can you literally die of boredom? Possibly, says a new study:

In a commentary to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April, experts say there’s a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early.

Annie Britton and Martin Shipley of University College London caution that boredom alone isn’t likely to kill you — but it could be a symptom of other risky behavior like drinking, smoking, taking drugs or having a psychological problem.

The researchers analyzed questionnaires completed between 1985 and 1988 by more than 7,500 London civil servants ages 35 to 55. The civil servants were asked if they had felt bored at work during the previous month.

Britton and Shipley then tracked down how many of the participants had died by April 2009. Those who reported they had been very bored were two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who hadn’t reported being bored.

Being chronically bored is rarely exactly what it seems:

“Boredom is not innocuous,” said Sandi Mann, a senior lecturer in occupational psychology at the University of Central Lancashire who studies boredom.

She said boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and suppress the body’s natural immunity. “People who are bored also tend to eat and drink more, and they’re probably not eating carrots and celery sticks,” she said.

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