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Waiting: rediscovering boredom in the age of the smartphone

https://theconversation.com/waiting-rediscovering-boredom-in-the-age-of-the-smartphone-83207

theconversation.com

Waiting: rediscovering boredom in the age of the smartphone
We constantly use electronic devices to distract ourselves from the tedium associated with waiting. Yet being bored can be a creative activity.

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Smartphones and our perception of time

Smartphones and our perception of time

Smartphones have changed the way we fill our time while waiting. Every moment of potential boredom can now be directed to modes of entertainment or other distractions.

Consequently, day-dreaming, thinking, speculating, observing, and people-watching are diminishing.

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Non-places

Non-places refer to spaces formed with certain ends (transport, commerce, leisure).

We often stand, lean or sit in these transitory public spaces hunched over our smartphones, but we don't experience them as places. Instead of noticing the rich detail these zones often display, they become spatial and visual white noise.

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The creative benefits of being bored

A bored mind is more likely to seek out activities that engage the brain.

Instead of using electronic devices to distract ourselves, we could see boredom as an invitation to look up and around, to people-watch, daydream, or to take the time to observe the world around us.

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A challenging concept

A challenging concept

French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal stated: ‘The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room.’

His idea focuses on one of our common...

The encouragement to think

Few of us dedicate their time to solitary thinking that can restore our spirits and move our lives ahead.

When we spend time in quiet thinking, we create an occasion for the mind to make some order and understand itself. Emotions and feelings become easier to name, we grow less scared of the thoughts in our own minds, and we are calmer and more precise about our direction.

"Traveling" trough our memories

This idea may sound a bit weird and even sad, but it has a real potential of comforting and sustaining us when we are in distress. 

We usually are very negligent when it comes to curating our own memories: we push the important events at the back of our minds. But if we neglect our memories, we are like spoilt children who enjoy only a part of the pleasure from experiences and then throw the rest aside to seek new thrills. This is part of the reason why we seek so many new experiences.

Boredom is not that simple to explain

Boredom is not that simple to explain

We may tend to think of boredom as a response to monotonous activities. But boredom isn't this clearcut.

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Boredom and modern society

Boredom is sometimes described as the plague of modern society.

  • Back in 2016, a French worker sued his former employer for "bore-out." He won.
  • Many people, especially those born between mid -1990s and late 2010s, scrolls aimlessly through apps and find nothing of interest.
  • People are even diagnosing their pets with boredom.

The struggle to define boredom

Psychologists differ in their definition of boredom.

  • In the 1960s and 1970s, boredom was defined as the feeling generated by a repetitive task. Researchers found that boredom increased alertness to the things happening around you (distractions).
  • From 1986, the opposite was found. A study found that boredom caused less concentration.