Boredom March 21, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
I’m not a great fan of Freakonomics and all its works. There’s a certain tone that seems to run through it that rubs me up the wrong way. Can’t put my finger on it, just one of those things. I prefer Planet Money from NPR for matters economic. But that said every once in a while it does raise fascinating issues. For example, last year it had a piece ‘Am I Boring You?’ which investigated the issue of boredom.
Now that’s something I find of particular interest. For a start the word itself didn’t have much currency until the 18th century – I’m sure we can all think of reasons why. Furthermore in the early 20th century in Britain it was discovered that boredom in repetitive industries and workplaces was a greater problem for workers than physical challenges. That’s an aspect of working conditions that isn’t often considered.
In some ways this is an age of spectacle, information and entertainment, and one has to wonder about whether some are ever bored any longer. Of course there is ennui, a different issue again.
I remember in the 1990s always being surprised at people I worked with in a fairly large private enterprise who hated the Christmas holidays. Where we worked we were forced – isn’t working life lovely – to apply days from our 19 (later 20) days holidays at Christmas because the industry/trade we mostly addressed did so two. Just on this this distorted holiday days radically. The companies would only allow employees to take holidays in July and August, incurring additional costs, but also limiting the scope and range of holidays. What remaining holiday days were burned off at Easter which left very few to distribute around the rest of the year. Anyhow, in relation to Christmas holidays, many people would say they were bored. I never felt that way. I wasn’t much pushed by being forced to take days off then, but the longer the holiday the better from my perspective. And there always seemed to be something to do.
Now it seems to me there’s even more for those who have the luxury of time and resources. Boredom seems a long way away. But then, and this is a different aspect of this, so is stillness. Mobile technology means that sitting in a café waiting for someone to show up is no longer a case of having the brain shoot away on tangents but instead is a process of checking mobile. Looking up and around. Checking mobile. Looking up and around. And repeat.