Webconsuls Blog

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Mom, I'm Bored!" ...Is Boredom Extinct?

I remember being bored. I think you know what I mean. It was usually a state of mind that a young adolescent or teenager experienced and felt the need to call out to the nearest parent something like this, "Mom, I'm bored. There is nothing to do." I don't know about your mother, but mine would usually come back with: "If you're bored then go outside, read a book, or I will find something for you to do!" Thinking back on this, I think my mother was tired. But those were the days that we learned to explore the canyons around our neighborhood (before they turned it into a golf course), we found trap-door spiders and brought them home in jars, we went to the library and checked out books to read, we started following certain Soap Operas, we walked to the public pool to swim with our friends, we played street games (kick the can) until well past 10:00PM and one summer I was even invited to be the piano player in a combo band! (Summer 1963,The Finnegan Combo took 1st Prize at the July 4th Fair Talent Show)

You are probably wondering why I am even discussing this topic today. Yesterday I happened to see an interview with James Bennet, Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic, where he discussed the 3rd annual "Ideas" issue. You will see from the video interview below and this essay from Walter Kirn, the 3rd biggest idea of this year is BOREDOM IS EXTINCT.

As Mr. Kirn says: "Thanks to Twitter, iPads, BlackBerrys, voice-activated in-dash navigation systems, and a hundred other technologies that offer distraction anywhere, anytime, boredom has loosened its grip on us at last—that once-crushing “weight” has become, for the most part, a memory."

Just recently Blog World New Media Expo posted a blog Poll: Should There Be “Gadget Free” Sessions at BlogWorld? You might find it interesting, it doesn't deal directly with boredom, as such, but with the grip that technology has on all of us, so we can't seem to sit in a conference session and just listen and learn. This post opens with: "After a member of the BlogWorld Facebook page posted a seemingly innocent comment about having a session at BlogWorld discussing multi-tasking during a gadget free session, the little hamster in my head began spinning her wheel." (DISCLAIMER: I am the member being referred to in this opening sentence.) I don't know what will become of this idea, but I will keep you posted.

I need to get back to work, but wouldn't it be a nice day for a daydream? Your thoughts...

P.S. I just went to check Twitter and it is over capacity. That is your ticket to daydream.


  1. I like being connected most of the time, but there are times when the right thing to do is put it all away. I am actually appalled at some of the things people do these days because they can't seem to separate themselves from their phones. A couple of examples: I have a colleague who plays with his phone during meetings (despite being told several times to stop) and I've also been next to someone in spin class who propped himself up on the bike's handlebars with his elbows so he could send text messages. I was also surprised at how much time people spent buried in their laptops or on their phones during SXSW sessions this year. Granted, some of the sessions weren't that great, but I'm a big fan of trying to get something useful out of your experience rather than totally tuning out. It just seems rude to me and, unfortunately, my good friend technology enables the rude behavior. Ah well. I'll keep doing my best to prevent technology from being too intrusive. :)

  2. Jodi,
    I know just what you are saying. Making eye contact with people is sometimes impossible. Yesterday my son asked me if I were going to get the new iPhone. I told him I love my Motorola Razr! Shhh...don't tell my social media friends. I might be banned.
    Thanks for coming by today.

  3. Judy,

    My daughters got out of school for the summer on Monday at 11:00 am. By 11:10 am I'd heard my first, "I'm sooooo bored!" And as much as it's annoying to hear while trying to work - I am thrilled to hear it.

    It means that they'll find those other things to do that you mentioned... Only a few hours later they invented their own "Camp Wigwam" and entertained themselves in that new world for hours. And today they begged me to take them to the library to sign up for the summer reading program (yes, they really begged me!)

    So, I hope boredom is not extinct - I think it's healthy and allows the mind to breathe and expand. I only wish I had more time for it as a grown up kid! As a matter of fact, I think I need to go spend some time at Camp Wigwam...! :)

  4. Lisa,
    I love hearing about your children and their boredom, it means that children can still be children, sans gadgets.
    I hope you will let me know how Camp Wigwam works out. Yeah for libraries and all they do for us.

  5. judy, with my first two kids i was a bit militant in making them have play time in their rooms when they were little. other moms made me feel badly, but i thought they should be able to play and use their imagination without someone to entertain them. i think it paid off, but who knows. both of them enjoy being alone and working on projects, art for my oldest and right now it is legos for my 12 year old son. my baby however, she is a whole other ballgame. she doesn't know what bored means, yet. but if she can't "settle" on a project as she calls it, she can drive me insane. i would love to be bored!

  6. Jorja,
    It is interesting to learn how other parents handle this question. Sometimes in today's enviornment I would like to see all of us take time out to just daydream. I am glad you stopped by to visit, here's to art, legos and all projects that fill our days.

  7. Judy, I love this topic.

    I have to say that the comment from Mr Kirn about the "weight" of boredom being lifted is interesting. So, we've replaced a feeling of "empty time" with fidgeting and fussing and generally crowding out any time in our minds to be "down" times. It's down times that often lead to new experiences. We are being amused to death and becoming mindless robots.

    Let's fight this. As you know, I support your idea of being at conferences without all this stuff. I love this "stuff" but it doesn't have to be on all the time. We've become addicted to it.

    By the way, I'm impressed you don't have a "smart phone." I do, and love it, but it does draw me into it more than I'd like. I often choose to just leave it at home, but it's tough.

    Nobody needs to be bored, but if one is, it's a great opportunity to learn about oneself and go in a new direction.

    "Kick the Can." I LOVED that game, especially when it was dusk and almost dark. In fact, my memory of that game is that we almost always played it when it was getting dark. Never in the afternoon.

    Have a great weekend. I hope you get bored!

  8. Hi John,
    I think Mr. Kirn agrees with you when he says in closing: "But what else has been lost? Creativity, just maybe. Because when one thinks about the matter—though we really have no reason to think about the matter, or to think about anything since boredom disappeared—the keypad and the touch screen now do the work that used to be the business of the daydream. Remember daydreams? No, of course you don’t. How could you? Three new text messages have just arrived and another three, in a moment, will go out."
    I think you are going to have really wonderful daydreams on Hornby Island and that is why I love watching the desert in the early morning.
    Have a good weekend.


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