CHAT: "boredom" (was Words for "Boredom")
|From:||Andy Canivet <cathode_ray00@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, June 18, 2002, 8:52|
>From: Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>
> --- Lars Henrik Mathiesen wrote:
> > > At a wild guess, boredom might require the combination of free time
> > > and the idea that one ought to be productive all the time -
> > > something most likely to be found in industrial societies. But I
> > > want more evidence that the concept of boredom is unknown in
> > > pre-industrial societies before I quite believe that.
> > You are bored if you do not get to perform any activity that interests
> > you. In a modern society, there can be many reasons for that --- lack
> > of money, lack of time, lack of access, lack of knowledge, lack of
> > capability. Many of these didn't apply in earlier societies.
>That is strange. I would expect that rather the opposite were true: that
>our TV, computers etc. boredom would be near to extinct.
>Or could it be that the redundancy of everything makes us bored?
There is an attentional component - we get bored when our minds are moving
faster than the situation; it is the opposite of a stress response. If the
environment is too stimulating or challenging, we get stressed and anxious,
if the environment is not challenging or stimulating enough, we get bored -
the way a motor suddenly revs when the load is removed. Boredom is also
motivational - a desire to be someplace and/or doing something else - a
sense of dissatisfaction with current circumstances. Zen masters aren't
supposed to get bored as often as the rest of us. If this is true, I'm sure
it has something to do with the training of attention in meditation - they
try to find the interesting parts of even the most mundane or dissatisfying
I would tend to think things like TV would increase the overall level of
boredom. TV is a largely passive experience - and attentional skills
atrophy (i.e. attentional skills being defined as the ability to notice and
be interested by more subtle aspects of the environment) - one is less
likely to be able to find the environment interesting (unless there is a TV
present. Computers may be a slightly different story, depending on what
they're used for...
I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is a measurable difference in
attention span / habituation between older people and those who have grown
up watching a lot of TV. I also wonder if it has anything to do with the
somewhat alarming rates of Attentional Deficit Disorders, or if that can all
be chalked up to over-diagnosis of a new clinical category. I suspect there
are studies on this - but I'm too lazy right now to go looking for any on
the net. Maybe I'll go watch some TV...
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