Friday, 29 August 2008

Boredom - The Root To All Evil?

It’s said that money’s the root to all evil but I personally think boredom has one up on the dosh. When people are bored, all sorts of trouble occurs.

Unfortunately, what we’ve created is a society of boredom and THAT, in my opinion, is what needs to be addressed because I really can’t see crime figures falling otherwise.

We think we’re lucky these days because we have all sorts of entertainment laid on for us in order to prevent boredom but the truth is, unless we actually use our imaginations and get out there and do stuff for ourselves, boredom will continue to reign. Computers, Tvs, games consoles and the likes, they all take away a huge part of our ability to be spontaneous and imaginative. I mean, we’re even lured into thinking that social networking sites like ‘Facebook’ and ‘MySpace’ will keep us connected with our friends, when in reality we’d be far better off actually going out and spending quality time with those friends instead of sending them silly, meaningless messages and ‘gifts’ through a website.

When it comes to fashion we’re told that this season we should be wearing this or that. Follow the trends and end up looking like everybody else - how boring is that? It certainly doesn’t take much imagination to dress well when we let others dictate our wardrobes.

Walk through just about any town these days and they’ll all pretty much look the same. Whereas once there was a diversity of small, local shops, these days the majority of shops are part of huge chains and all look the same. W.H. Smith, Woolworths, HMV, McDonalds, Greggs the bakers, New Look, BHS, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, River Island, Evans, and so forth - if you've seen them in one town, you've seen them in them all. They look the same and they sell exactly the same things. Even charity shops have a ‘corporate identity’ these days.

Any large town has its share of housing estates where each house is exactly like the next - if you've seen one Barrett's home you've seen all of those too! What's worse, these days even the front gardens are less likely to have individual flair because boundry markers in the form of low fences and hedges are often banned on new estates. Open plan is the 'in thing' with just a patch of lawn and a driveway, each and every one of them pretty much the same. When it comes to interiors we're told which colours we should decorate with this year in order to be 'hip' and appear 'successful'. How boring and unimaginative!

A huge percentage of our jobs are automated to the point where we perform them in an almost robotic like manner, from the check-out people at Tesco and those working on factory production lines to the ‘cooks’ at McDonalds and those working in call centres. Mind numbing work that leaves us looking elsewhere for ‘happiness’, usually by spending the money we’ve earned through the work that caused our boredom in the first place.

When people are bored, they have a greater tendency to do anything to break the monotony, whether it’s something relatively innocent like throwing paper balls at their fellow workmates or something far worse, like turning to drugs and alcohol or hanging about on street corners looking for ‘a laugh’, although often their idea of a laugh is at the expense of somebody else. Violence often stems from boredom, too.

We don’t even really need to think that much anymore. We’re governed by countless rules and regulations that do our thinking for us, leaving us without the need for personal responsibility through common sense.

I know how I've felt when I've been bored, because even though I think I'm pretty good at avoiding boredom, there are some situations that just cannot be escaped. Like being left in a miserable waiting room, totally alone with nothing to do for absolutely ages at the hospital! What a way to help people get better! I've wanted to throw something, jump on something, scream, rip something.... anything to make whatever I'm doing a little less tedious. I'm sure you've felt the same way, too.

I don’t have all the answers to the problem but I do believe that people need a greater sense of personal worth, to have diversity, responsibility and spontaneity brought back into their lives and to build a stronger sense of community, otherwise boredom and the problems associated with it will never go away.

Sharon J


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Anonymous said...

It's not boredom that is the problem per se, that will never go away. It's the ability to cope with boredom we're losing. There are so many short term fixes to so-called boredom around from short attention span computer games to 500 satellite tv cahannels that we've become afraid of it. "Boredom" has become an enemy to be killed whereas in reality it's just a state of mind. What better time to think, plan, meditate, imagine or just empty your head than when you're "bored". There is always something "to do".

Anonymous said...

Great post!
For me boredom in the sense of lonelyness - although I've changed that because I now do less and don't get bored, all part of the downshifting :0)
Also busyness can be horrible on finances!

I thought you were away in London

Anonymous said...

Since making the decision to lead a more simple life and identifying our end goal, I've never been busier. I can't remember the last time I felt bored. Great post!

Sharon J said...

@ anonymous. I'm not sure I completely understand your point. If we're spending time thinking, planning, meditating etc then surely we're not bored? What I'm talking about is enforced boredom and a lack of anything inspirational. When I worked in call-centre, even when there were no calls we weren't allowed to talk, read or anything. Why? I've no idea but it was totally pointless and left the staff feeling far less motivated than they otherwise would have been, I'm sure. Towns and housing estates that all look the same don't inspire people to hang around - people just dash out, do what they need to do and dash home again. All this, IMO, creates depression and isolation. I do agree that computer games and the likes have 'taught' us to expect to be entertained rather than to entertain ourselves, though.

@ notesfromthefrugaltrenches. I understand what you're saying. I think the 'fast lane' does bring with it a sense of lonliness and boredom - that's why people are always looking for the next fix in the form of 'stuff' and spending.

@ apieceofwood. It's strange how living a simpler life leads to less boredom, isn't it? Even though we're spending less and have less stuff. I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that we're more focused and enjoy what we have much more.

Sara at On Simplicity said...

I think you really nailed it when you said that a lack of imagination is why we get bored when we're surrounded by entertainment options.

This makes me want to invent some crazy game, just to keep that imagination going.

taliendo said...

"Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself."

~Søren Kierkegaard

nice post. : )