Worker’s Boredom, Distraction and Procrastination

Procrastination

 

Quite possibly the most bitter sweet activity a person can partake in, procrastination provides people with the opportunity to avoid doing some sort of work for as long as possible, almost forcing you to complete it at a certain point.  It is essentially an intentional disregard for the required completion of some piece of work.  And the worst part is, with the technologically advanced world we now live in, outlets of entertainment are incredibly abundant.  Therefore, the ability to avoid boredom and/or completing work is much more prevalent as most media entertainment is a click away.

However, for most, procrastination becomes an overwhelming strain as the put-off of so many assignments, tasks, and responsibilities overloads the mind with stress and worry.  It even seems as if a feeling of guilt constantly emerges during procrastination, because the fact remains that you are doing the wrong thing by avoiding crucial responsibilities.  In turn, this constant preoccupation has a negative effect on a person’s capacity to fully fulfill, in terms of enjoyment and stimulation, the time in which he or she is procrastinating, which results in an uninteresting experience.  Overall, due to the immense pressure on and procrastination of working individuals, a conscious burden and guilt develops in their heads which makes free-time less appealing and legitimately  entertaining.   (boredom)

I will examine how this concept affects individuals participating in different forms of upper-level education, knowledge, and workload

 

High School Students

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With the independent, free-spirited minds that almost all teenage and young adult students possess, participating in activities that are school or work related is never seen as pleasurable or direly necessary to these people. Most young people have this idea that they are invincible, and that everything is bound to work out in the end regardless of any poor decisions along the way. Not to mention, being in high school, there is an immense pressure on these kids to perform well in all aspects of life, as their future, livelihood, and parental approval depends on it.  Parents constantly remind their children through high school that grades will be essential to gain acceptance to college and that extracurriculars are the key to a complete application.

So with their proclaimed invincibility and societal pressure bearing down on them, it creates the perfect time to procrastinate and simply try to enjoy every moment you have left until that next due date. Procrastination is perfect in this regard because it acts a temporary, intentional escape from all the responsibilities of life and also reinforces their belief that “it’ll all work out in the end as long as I get it done”. In any way, though, this age group is still young and seeking fun. So when the chance to avoid mundane activities, such as school work, presents itself, it seems there is only one alternative: procrastination.

In contrast to students of older age, high school students are socially involved to a much higher degree.  Because most of those attending high school have been seeing and conversing with the same faces since kindergarten, closer friend relationships are developed which increases one’s temptation to disregard schoolwork and say “screw it”.   Adversely, although you develop strong relationships with these people, seeing the same faces in the same small (maybe big) town everyday for potentially 12 years of your life can become extremely monotonous, which is one of the main roots of boredom for high schoolers.  If not in close proximity to a big city or entertainment hub, most of these kids are of young age, possibly without a drivers license or source of money.  So in reality many of the same week and weekend activities remain the same which becomes unintriguing after a while.

Also, earlier and earlier in their lives, kids are being accustomed to high-tech electronic devices that make beating boredom the easiest thing in the world, at least temporarily.  With so many social media sources and outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vine, and Instagrams at these people’s fingertips, it almost becomes an automatic impulse among them to use these applications when bored.  However two things result from this expansion of technology. One being that since these devices are being used so much on a daily basis, stimulation and interest day after day becomes less and less.  People will often mindlessly scroll through Twitter and Instagram in leu of conversing with the people right in front of you.  The second thing is that the growth of technology makes it easier for students to procrastinate.  Even if they are studying or writing an essay, they do not need to go very far for a break or escape from work, and it can consequently lead to an hour or so of non-work related activity.

 

College Students

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The group of people that undergoes the worst of procrastination and its boring consequences is college students, graduate and undergraduate.  Transitioning from an environment in which academic degree of difficulty is relatively low to a rigorous academic environment, a significant amount of college students struggle to adapt adequately.  The workload received is so great that it is often difficult to scrounge personal time, which forces them to revert to procrastination and a last minute attempt at work.  This has an advert effect on their academic performance and overall experience during school.

“Students worry about performing inadequately or fear their success may raise others’ expectations of them, he says.  Other students may actually think they get a thrill out of delaying their work and believe they work best under pressure” said Depaul University professor Joseph Farrari.  In either way,  fear of an unsatisfactory result or raised expectations of you by respected others increases temptation to hold off tasks to the last second.  I know personally that when I know there is a lengthy assignment, exam, or essay that I have yet to complete, I literally sleep as long as I can because that’s really the only true way to completely stop myself from thinking about it.  For me and most others, it usually leads to a day or tiredness and laziness in which nothing productive is accomplished.

According to Piers Steel , a psychologist at the University of Calgary, found in a 2007 meta-analysis that roughly eighty percent to ninety-five percent of college students procrastinate their coursework.  This is evidence that due to the high standard set by universities, even those who were diligent and punctual in primary schooling are succumbing to procrastination and accumulating stress by doing so.  It is well known that the more effective strategy is to break up a large piece of work into multiple small sections to reduce the amount of time needed to be spent in one sitting.   However, with a handful of other more interesting things to do that are far less boring, people choose to forego the responsible route and waste another very useful hour, day, or week.   In a survey conducted by Caitlin Lenker and Dan McAndrew dealing with procrastination and its influence on students, one student said that “They (college students) are too lazy to be organized and get everything done before they have fun.  They would rather have all of the fun first, before doing work.”   Unfortunately, while they may be having “fun”, there is no doubt that while doing whatever it is that is not what they should be,  the free time is less satisfied because of their knowledge of upcoming assignments that continue to pile up for them to complete later.

Contrary to popular opinion, the independence college students acquire when they begin their four-year adventure is another reason why they fall victim to this lifestyle.  Unlike earlier schooling, there is no little angel on your shoulder, that being parents and others, pointing you in the right direction and pampering you through thick and thin.  There is no one there making you finish your homework before going out which allows for vast amounts of procrastination.

Not only do they have the academic stressors on their shoulders, but are pressed to make relationships that will last through college and accumulate some type of income to sufficiently support day-to-day living.  Unfortunately, this is difficult for those who are both employed and unemployed during college.  If employed, yes there is less time for procrastination, but after a long day of classes followed by a dinner shift later that day, its presumable that most people will still decide to procrastinate other responsibilities in exchange for relaxation.  For the unemployed, it simply adds to the already large pile of stress already in your brain.  Knowing that you have no steady income, a cafeteria that serves the same gross food everyday, a growing pile of tasks not yet completed, and other personal issues usually present, how is it possible not to get bored?  Procrastination becomes a snowball in this as one negative consequence after the next continue to emerge.

In my experience, for example, I know for a fact that taking care of responsibilities and academic duties ahead of time is such a refreshing feeling as you just simply feel better about your academic standing and entire being.  Free of stress and constant reminder of what I should be doing, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the present situation I was in.  Because your only focus is what is happening right in front of you, you are able to hone in on that without the distraction of unfinished work.

Adults in the Workforce 

Despite an adults responsibility to potentially support a family and attend to personal needs,  they are the least susceptible to boredom and procrastination.  Typically adults are forced to adapt to a schedule that demands a day-long commitment and allows for little to no time for leisure.  So, room for procrastination is very minimal as the commitment to a family and yearly salary job is much more of a reason to not procrastinate.  And the hustle-bustle style of life leaves zero downtown, which makes boredom very hard to come by.

Unlike unmonitored school students, adults are not able to do things other than work while at their occupation.  They obviously have more incentive to work as they know they will be receiving a hefty sum of money in the future, so their motivation to work is much higher than students.  They are realistically unable to procrastinate because if you approach your boss explaining why you didn’t have a presentation ready for the meeting, you are simply going to be a fired which would instigate a complete downhill spiral.

Another reason adults are less effected by the restrictions of boredom, is that they are not as technologically inclined as their children’s generation.  Most adults barely know how to operate smart phones and devices, so that’s one less thing to worry about.  There is less of a reliance on those devices to escape boredom, so they are more creative and intuitive when combating boredom which is an overall more stimulating experience.

Works Cited 

Haycock, Laurel.  “Procrastination in College Students: The Role of Self-Efficacy and Anxiety”.  Journal of Counseling and Development.  23 December 2011.  Web.

Lenker, Caitlin.  “The Procrastination Epidemic: An Investigative Report”.  The Minstrel.  Web.

Novotney, Amy.  “Procrastination or Intentional Delay?”.  American    Psychological Association.  January 2010.  Web.  Page 14.

Misra, Ranjita.  “College Students’ Academic Stress and its Relation to Their Anxiety, Time Management, and Leisure Satisfaction”.  American Journal of Health Studies.  2000 Volume 16 Issue 1.  Web.

 

 

What One Thinks about on a Park Bench

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One day while sitting on a park bench half people watching and half daydreaming I found myself noticing the large number of people that walked by using some kind of technology. My own opinion is that walking in a park and relaxing is entertaining enough. However, I guess to most people today, especially young people, feel bored by sitting or walking in the park without the aid of some electronic device.

Then, I thought about boredom and its origins as a concept in human society. I personally find it very interesting that until the word boredom came to be created, there stood very little referencing to what we consider boredom today. That’s not to say that boredom did not exist until the word’s creation, but rather that our definition of boredom today continues to expand from the word’s original meaning. In this paper I want to take a look at the relationship technology (by this I mean electronic devices) and boredom today. Each case I will compare now to the past in the form of a narrative denkbild (or at least that’s what I’m going to call it). In addition, I want to shed light on how technology influences the increasing less amount of time it takes for someone to become bored. Each person, I believe should understand how technology influencing him or her with respect to boredom. Is the influence a good thing, a bad thing, or does it even matter?

 

Our Non-Stop World

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Everywhere one looks one sees people constantly busy or multi-tasking. People do take breaks and go on vacations, but the time for sitting and doing nothing decreased slowly over the last couple of decades. Smart phones allow people to do business, check emails, or even prepare for business events while on the go, resulting in people (especially in businesses and companies) to use their free time for business matters. For many people “time is money” so no one wants to waste a second of their day. In addition, many feel that they need to do so much but have very little time in the day to complete everything. Today’s busy world also leaves very little or no time for shutting down electronic devices and taking a break. Anyone who every stopped checking his or her emails for more than a day knows the unpleasant experience of coming back to an overwhelming amount of emails that all should be read and possibly replied to.

When a person finally does have time to relax they experience an automatic urge to be doing something and not just existing. As a society we appear accustom to the ability of multi-tasking that technology offers. Business now even look for the ability of multi-tasking as a job requirement for a person or preference him or her because he or she can multi-task. So while sitting down to relax and enjoy a movie or read a book, many keep their phone (smart phone or regular) close by and check the device every so often. People want to feel connected to the rest of the world at all times and not just their own. To modern people being alone and not connected feels boring. A majority of people feel like their oxygen supply no longer exists whenever Wi-Fi or a place to charge electronic devices appears to be unavailable to them, especially young people. Very few cafes or fast food places do not offer Wi-Fi. Now technology indeed helps people to conduct business faster and instantly provide needed information, but it also encourages people to constantly feel the need to be doing something and stay connected to everyone else in the world.

“It’s a Nice Day Outside, Let’s Go Play Video Games”

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These days, kids do not go play outside but stay inside to play video games. Ask anyone today over the age of fifty what they did on sunny days as a kid, and the answer almost always includes going outside to participate in some activity with other kids. In the Peanuts comic strip Charlie Brown appeared in the majority of panels with friends outside playing football, walking around, or sitting at a sidewalk stand. In the 40’s and 50’s the major toys sold included bikes, jump ropes, hula hoops, spinning tops, toys cars big enough for a child to sit in etc., all of which children played with outdoors. Now toys consist of more electronic based material used inside for the most part. Video games, whether played on iPhone, iPods, Xboxes, Wii, or PlayStation, make up the majority of consumer purchases for children’s presents. In addition, video game designers create games not only for kids but for people of all age groups. A sample list of the most popular video games of 2013 (http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/12/the-20-best-and-three-most-disappointing-video-games-of-2013/) includes:

1. Papers, Please

2. The Last of Us

3. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

4. Grand Theft Auto V

5. Antichamber

6. Super Mario 3D World

7. The Stanley Parable

8. Divekick

9. Bioshock Infinite

10. Towerfall

11. Tomb Raider

12. XCom: Enemy Within

13. Resogun

14. Gone Home

15. Dead Rising 3

16. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

17. Guacamelee

18. DmC

19. Plants vs. Zombies 2

20. The Swapper

Of course these do not include all the video games in existence but represent only a small sample of the huge number and wide variety of video games offered. Furthermore, studies show that the number of video game purchasers increased over the last few years. So clearly, the gaming industry creates big business. Why go out somewhere when the ability to go anywhere and do anything exists within the realm of video games? Instead of sitting and talking or reading a book, video games allow for people to do whatever their heart desires without leaving the comfort of their own couch. As people fulfill their desires through virtual reality they feel less happy when actually doing something in reality. For gamers reality does not allow for wild adventures, amazing powers, or a place where they accomplish anything extraordinary. A gamer still becomes happy by things in the outside world and can still do amazing things, but the gamer remains unable to go out and conquer kingdoms (unless maybe you have nukes) or acquire super powers (unless perhaps you take a radioactive bath or become half cyborg) in the real world. For most people they experience a feeling of nothing being interesting and that reasonable options for something to do remain mundane to them, and so they fill that desire with video games.

“Dinner’s Ready!”

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http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/08/peeling-back-the-foil-the-origin-of-the-tv-dinner/

            For centuries before inventions like the TV or computer, families sat down and ate their dinner together. Everyone ate and talked together until they finished the meal. The major changes to this old structure began with the invention of the common TV dinner in the mid-1950’s. The meals involved little effort to prepare and cooked at fast speeds, both time consuming activities in the past. So, in a way TV dinners took away the boredom felt during meal preparation when using TV dinners. The TV dinners led families out of dining rooms and into living rooms where they used the covenant trays to eat while watching television together. Speeding up to the present day many family members do not even eat at the same time or do the same thing while eating, let alone actually eat in the same room. The parents often eat in another room checking emails, doing work, texting, checking social media, or watching TV. Then, the kids eat while doing possibly the same activities as their parents in addition to playing video games. Each family member feels compelled to be doing something rather than just eating a meal. To them eating a meal together at a dining room table holds not enough entertainment or interesting activities. Instead, the look to technology as a way to stay entertained or feel like they are accomplishing more than just eating. On the other hand, perhaps modern times create an environment where the individual experiences a busier schedule than people in the past ever experienced, thus not leaving enough time to sit down with the family and eat a meal together.

 

“She’s Got a Ticket to Ride, but She Don’t Care”

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            Before travel became faster and more comfortable, travelers on long journeys needed ways to not become fed up with the long hours of travel. During the 1700’s travelers often brought a deck of cards for playing or a book to stay entertained on long carriage rides. Others kept journals about their travels to pass the time or simply talked to others traveling with them. Another way to perhaps not become bored included the interesting situations one got into during poor traveling weather or on bad roads. Over time people continued to find new ways to create a fun time while traveling. With the invention of cars later came the car radio, which people used on long car trips to listen to music, the news, or a sporting event. Today traveling takes up only a fraction of the time it used to. Even so, people still feel bored and even become bored more easily despite the fact that traveling does not take as long.  On trains, planes, buses, and in cars, people visibly use technology as a distraction while traveling. In Japan for example, no one on trains talks to each but only uses their phones or laptops to do work or listen to music. In America as well people on buses, subways, and planes constantly use phones to text others or use iPods to listen to music. Planes now even come with screens on the back of chairs for passengers to watch movies or listen to music. Teenagers and children often appear as the worst case scenario, by always using electronics for social media, texting, watching movies, playing games, or listening to music. Not all, but most teens and young adults rarely can be seen sitting still while traveling without using some sort of technology to prevent boredom.

            Those who commute to work also experience a similar feeling of wanting something else to do during long traveling times. Rush hour creates agonizing torture for drivers on the road today. Again people of eras gone by used radios to listen to music or the radio to ease the wait, and people still daydream to combat the mind numbing effect of sitting in traffic but with the addition of music they choose or perhaps an audio book to fill in the rest of the time. So, people traveling over long distances for trips or for the daily commute to work always experienced boredom. However, many people today do not even travel on a 15 minute or more car ride without playing music. People today begin to feel antsy or bored in those fifteen minutes because they only sit in the car doing very little and start to sense a need to do something instead of just sitting there. Technology allows for the traveler to always own a path to relieving that antsy feeling. Furthermore, technology does not cause a sudden start of feeling boredom while traveling, but perhaps technology increased the instances of boredom and caused for less time to be needed for that feeling to kick in.

“Do I have to Go to School Today?”

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            The number of times parents experience their child or children asking “do I have to go to school today?” probably exceeds a million by the time graduation rolls around. Most kids do not see school as necessary or interesting, but as a torturing institution that they must attend. From the early 1900’s, when finally all the American states held in place a compulsory education law, to the present day, the generations of children grew less and less happy about attending school. Experts continue to stumble over the reasoning for the sinking enthusiasm. Children are no longer forced by parents to take on hard jobs with terrible conditions in factories (at least not in first world countries) so why do kids disdain school? In recent decades the rate of children enjoying school appears to fall at an increasingly faster pace. This situation correlates with the rise of computer technology. Kids now own the ability to carry an electronic device with them anywhere they go. If they become uninterested in what happens around them, the children only need to reach in their pocket and pull out their phone or portable gaming device. In the past, children indeed felt bored in school just like kids today, but the options to relieve the boredom only consisted of daydreaming, passing notes, harassing another student, or just paying attention because there existed no other distraction from going bored out of your mind (if that’s how the student thought about what was being taught). No technology existed for a student to be tempted.

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Teachers today often stop class because students continuously pull out some kind of technology during class and create a distraction. Administrations across the United States even created rules that require an electronic device to be taken off the student if they pull out the device even once during school hours. In hopes to use current innovations to the teacher’s advantage, some schools take the initiative with technology and incorporate technology into the students’ educations. The idea tries for making school fun and interesting. A few schools, in an attempt to keep children attending school and/or out of mischief, eliminated the libraries for electronic archives and turned the former libraries into gaming and computer centers. Other schools combat the technology craze by allowing students a ten to fifteen minute break a couple of times a day to check their social media or texts and remove the desire to check during class. The solution seems to be non-existent or impossible to achieve in breaking away today’s students from technology and helping them to become engaged and eager to learn.

The Effects of Not Experiencing Boredom

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When people do not allow themselves to become bored they lose the time to think about life in general or what they accomplished/ not accomplished in their life so far. Boredom allows person to sit and think about his or her own future and what he or she wants to do with his or her life or if his or her life appears to be heading in the right direction. In essence, when a person feels bored, he or she must sit down and face reality rather than escaping it, whether he or she wants to or not. People also allow for their brains to relax when they feel bored (for the most part at least). People today often feel anxious while others experience the need to go and do something, but they should take that time to stop, relax, and not think about anything important. It would help to relax a person, but only if they enter the right mindset about boredom.

                        However, allowing oneself to become bored also creates problems. If someone experiences boredom while at work or doing something of importance, than it prevents him or her from doing work. In this instance anything, including technology, should be used to aid in preventing or stopping the disinterest and continuing the more important tasks.

Why did the Writer Go on this Long Rant about Boredom?

To conclude, boredom that people feel today has evolved from past levels and the degree to which boredom is felt in different types of situations. Technology influences modern boredom in numerous ways for better or worse. In some instances technology creates a chance for its users to be entertained, and in other cases technology exists as a catalyst for making people feel bored more easily. The reader’s job after finishing reading this long rant, lies in thinking about how technology influences and what role it plays in the daily boredom that the reader feels. Then think about whether the results include positive, negative, or indifferent effects.

Arbitrary Thoughts

Welcome to my blog! A place to write down my daily musings.
Questions are constantly asked in hopes of eventually finding answers.

My life is far from exciting, but maybe I’ll discover something new.

 

February 16 –  A Life of Happiness

It says 2:25pm on the clock above the chalkboard. In the final minutes of class Mr. McMorrow quickly mentions, “So the take home message in Schopenhauer’s essay is that if you’re truly satisfied with your life, you would never have a dull moment in life. On that note class is dismissed!” Even before he finished students were already zipping their backpacks and closing their books, ready to rush out of the classroom. As the class bell rang he suddenly remembered and exclaimed “Make sure you look on the class website for the prompt for the assignment due next Friday!” Great, another assignment to add to my agenda.

I check my phone – exactly 3:00pm. My after school routines begins when I open my pantry to get some snacks and then head to the living room to turn on my TV. At first the show seems pretty interesting, but later on that effect wears off while I eat mindlessly. It’s too bad I only come to this realization after two hours.

Next, I always turn on my computer with good intentions, but once I open my browser, I completely forget about my original intentions and start playing computer games. I definitely can’t forget to check YouTube either. I always tell myself, “It’s a good idea to relax before I start work right?” Eventually even surfing the web can becoming dull after several hours.

Once it reaches 7pm, it’s time to face the most dreaded thing of all – school work. It’s always math worksheets, textbook reading, typing up lab reports, and the list goes on and on. If there was a class that focused on video games I’m pretty sure I would ace that class. But nevertheless, I’m stuck with regular homework.

Finally, I get around to opening Mr. McMorrow’s website and read the prompt on the page:
“Due next Friday 2/23 — Write your opinion of Arthur Schopenhauer’s essay on “The Emptiness of Existence”. He believed that if life was truly fulfilling and filled with purpose we would never encounter boredom. Write at least 1.5-2 pages double space. Remember to use a proper heading and 12-point font.
It sounds simple, but because I’m extremely indecisive, I never know what I want to write. I dislike when work starts to feel repetitive and monotonous, but this is also true when I relax. Even activities that I initially think are fun start to become dull at one point. For now, I feel pretty neutral about boredom.

February 19 – Online Quizzes

While I explore the internet through my daily after school routine, I tend to end up on random websites with self-quizzes. Most of them are extremely lighthearted, such as “Which Disney character are you?” or “What kind of Superhero Power should you have?”.  In a way I’m learning a little bit about myself, but in the end it’s just for entertainment.

During my daily web surfing I came across this boredom quiz. Only twenty eight questions to go through—I just have to pick a number between one and seven and decide if I agree or not.

This was definitely not one of the lighthearted and fun quizzes though. As I scroll through these statements they all seem to have a negative connotations. Examples include “I am often trapped in situations where I have to do meaningless things” or “Many things I have to do are repetitive and monotonous”. To my surprise, I find myself agreeing with these statements. But I never felt that my life seemed so depressing. Here’s what I read at the bottom of the page when I finished:

The Boredom Proneness Scale suggests that the higher your score on the scale, the more prone you are to boredom. Your score of 121 suggests you are more likely to be prone to boredom.

Two thirds of the population score between 81 and 117.

Just 2.3% score above 135 or below 63.”

According to research, a higher score on the scale indicates that you’re likely to suffer from chronic boredom. Symptoms typical of chronic boredom are depression, anxiety, restlessness, and low performance in school. A score of 121 puts me slightly above average, so I guess I get bored a bit too easily, and I’m more likely to suffer all of these symptoms.

It’s true that I can easily become bored, but I never considered it as a type of illness. I can easily become bored with school work, and get distracted, but I always thought of it as a way to relax. Plus, once I lose interest in my distractions, I’m brought back to the work I have to finish. So when I feel bored it fosters a sense of awareness that benefits me. In a way, it helps me choose optimal decisions, and it’s definitely not serious enough for me to consider as an illness. Besides, one quiz does not define my future. At least I hope so.

February 20 – Side Effects

Procrastination and distractions usually occur when I want to avoid the monotony of school work. I’ve always viewed it in a negative way. After a long night I often tell myself “If I didn’t procrastinate, maybe I could have finished my work earlier.” The tendency to put things off and finish accomplishing work last minute always puts stress on myself. Can I even be considered as something positive?

Google is typically helpful when I ask questions I can’t answer. I opened up Google and typed “Is procrastination good?” into the search bar. The first thing that showed was an article titled The Holy Trinity of Inactivity: How Boredom, Distraction, and Procrastination are Vital to Healthy Living”. If this article speaks the truth, I can consider myself a pretty healthy person then. It’s interesting because I always thought about ways to eliminate procrastination and avoid being unproductive, but maybe I thought wrong.

“Being bored, procrastinating, and embracing distraction all help your brain function.”

The more I read this article the more surprised I become. I might have some justification for procrastinating now.

A list of reasons why boredom is good, according to this article:

  1. Boredom is a necessary filter when there’s too much information.

Reading something dull puts us in a temporary state of boredom, making us feel restless. But this state also reflects a very obvious fact. As your interest level decreases, you come to the conclusion that there is nothing new or useful to learn anymore.

  1. It leads to creative productivity.

You become more likely to pursue meaningful activities because of boredom. Losing focus as a result of avoiding dull work helps people consider a broader range of information. With a wider scope, we consider more alternative and diverse ideas that help us gain a greater insight on different innovations.

  1. It helps you to make better decisions.

Procrastination usually follows after feeling bored with work, causing our productivity level to decrease. But, the process of procrastination is important for making decisions. According to Frank Partnoy, it helps us think about the greatest amount of time to delay before taking an action or making a decision. Instead of rushing right into action, it helps us think and consider our options before we have to subject ourselves to an activity we don’t enjoy. Instantly rushing into work can instantly cause stress, but procrastinating can give people time to relax and be equally as productive later on.

There’s so much information in this article, and it definitely make me feel less ashamed about my daily distractions. But most of these points appear to be speculations rather than true facts. An author can publish whatever they want on the internet, so is it truly reliable?

February 21 – Brain Activity

“Biology – Write a short summary of a study related to the brain. 1-2 pages.”

Homework in biology class is usually relatively simple, but today’s assignment seems so time consuming. Usually I’m given simple assignments, but every once in a while my teacher assigns us short papers. I definitely don’t mind the required page length, but the most tedious part about these assignments is the researching a certain topic. Neuroscience is definitely interesting, but what specific topic am I supposed to choose? This assignment is too vague.

I spent several minutes sitting in front of my computer with Google opened, without any ideas. How can it be possible to reach boredom even though I didn’t even begin? There’s usually a scientific reason for everything, like our emotions or physical actions, or maybe someone already discovered how boredom works. So, I took a chance and typed in “boredom and the brain”, and luckily tons of links appeared.

When I reached the middle of the page of the first link I read:

“While an individual feels bored, brain activity decreases by 5%. This reduction in brain activity affected the patient’s perception of time. Several participants state that they feel restless when time seems to pass by slowly.

Although there is a slight decline in brain activity, certain regions of the brain become more active. Specific signals are exchanged between the medial prefrontal cortex in the front of the brain and the posterior cingulate and precuneus in the back of the brain. Collectively, these are the default networks of the brain. It is believed that the brain experiences stimulation in the default network to turn away from the external environment and explore within.

Thus, boredom is a paradox – in the perception of lacking stimulation, our brains are actually experiencing stimulation. Previously, I haven’t seen any concrete evidence of why boredom is helpful, but this observation supports that. With a greater sense of stimulation, it supports the idea that creative processes are created from monotony.

Researchers believe that the brain is stimulated because it’s making connections between unrelated ideas. In a more relaxed manner, boredom causes us to think of alternatives or solutions to our problems. It helps sort through information, and in a way fuels productivity.

So boredom is not a negative feeling at all—it actually seems pretty helpful instead.

February 22- Thursday Night

When I read other articles for Mr. McMorrow’s assignment on whether boredom is good, I was pretty skeptical about that I found. Sometimes I think my constant boredom may be a problem in my life. If I lose interest so quickly, how will I be able to survive the future years of school in store for me? It makes me unmotivated when I get bored, and I feel stuck because I don’t know what to do. Then again, it’s not a completely bad aspect either. Although, after reading all those articles and finding supporting scientific evidence about the positive results of boredom, I’m more convinced that I’m living a healthy lifestyle because I experience boredom.

So, my answer to Mr. McMorrow’s question is that I don’t agree with Schopenhauer’s philosophy. I constantly encounter dull moments and engage in monotonous tasks, but instead of becoming frustrated, it makes me realize that I need a break. Sometimes I go and finish easier tasks first, or I just relax and give myself time to think. It seems unproductive if I take frequent breaks, because I become bored, but it helps me make good decisions, and even helps me express my creativity. Even if I experience boredom often, I’m far from being unsatisfied with my life.

Investigating the Psychological Causes of Boredom

A Psychological Problem

Boredom can impact people in a variety of ways, affecting elements such as their mental and physical state. Psychologists now pay more attention to this phenomenon as they realize that it is a growing problem among people of all ages. They seek an answer to the root of this problem in order to better understand and deal with the predominant issues that they often see in bored individuals, however, psychologists still struggle to find the psychological base of boredom. Some of the usual effects of this disinterest include feelings of discomfort, anxiety, helplessness, and apathy, which originate in a person’s mind. I believe that there are two theories that can account for a person’s feelings and actions when bored, cognitive dissonance and reactance.

 

On the Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Boredom

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a person experiences discomfort or anxiety due to apprehension of moral conflicts between their actions and beliefs. These unpleasant emotions are consistent with what a person might feel when bored. When someone is doing something boring, they want to do something else and often think of other things that would be time better spent. This causes a feeling of discomfort to develop in the person. Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that because this person’s actions don’t reflect his or her beliefs, he or she will attempt to minimize the emotional discomfort by modifying either their actions or thoughts. The most common way of reducing dissonance is to justify one’s actions, which can be done in several ways. We tend to either change out beliefs to fit our actions, change our actions to fit our beliefs, or make excuses and blame an external source.

 

It’s One or the Other

Modifying actions to fit one’s beliefs is the truest way to reduce dissonance. In this way, one can alleviate the uneasy feelings they experience because they can link their actions to their beliefs without comprising their morals. In the case of boredom, a person could be motivated by the unpleasant feelings that he or she experiences, stimulating the need for variation in activity. For example, at a mundane office job, getting up to take a walk can be therapeutic and reduce anxiety for a short duration because he or she doesn’t want to be sitting at a desk. Most of the time, this results in a short break from boredom and renewed interest.

 

Changing an existing belief to fit actions also decreases dissonance because it makes beliefs and actions more consistent with each other. This method is more complex than changing actions. A belief is most likely to be altered when an individual has no strong feelings about it or if a situation challenges that belief in a hard to counteract way. Take for example a person entering a discussion that they haven’t encountered before. If at first this person thought that the topic in question would be boring, to reduce his or her dissonance, he or she will change his or her attitudes and believe that the topic is interesting.

 

A State of Irritation and Inattention

The following are the thoughts of a student sitting in a boring college class. It seems like an increasing amount of students find their classes boring, and they aren’t afraid to show it.

 

Why am I here? I don’t want to be here, but I’m determined to try to get something out of this class today. 75 minutes.

 

I never learn anything in this class; it’s half a review from Chemistry 1, even though this is Chemistry 2. Might as well call it Advance Chemistry 1. 70 minutes.

 

I’m so bored that I don’t feel like paying attention. I could be doing more productive things with my time. 65 minutes.

 

I feel uncomfortable with how I’m spending time. I’m bored. 60 minutes.

 

I wonder what’s new on Twitter. 60 minutes

 

Well, nothing on Twitter, time to play Candy Crush. 55 minutes

 

Wow, she’s still talking about the Chemistry 1 topic that she was ten minutes ago. It feels like it’s been twenty minutes. I’m leaving. 45 minutes

 

Here, the student is changing his actions to be more consistent with his thoughts. He believes that the class is boring and he could be doing better things with his time, so he decides to leave.

 

It’s Not My Fault

After another company took over his company, Jack was unemployed. He sat at home every day combing through job search engines in search of work. Six months later, he couldn’t believe that no company would hire him despite his credentials. He felt trapped and bored by the same routine every day that yielded no results. His expectations led him to believe that he should have a job, but he was never contacted by any businesses. In his mind, he didn’t want to sit at home continuing this jobless trend without anything interesting to do, but he couldn’t help it. “It’s not my fault,” he insisted. At first, he blamed his boredom on the poor economy and thin job market to make himself feel better about not working. He was sure that when the economy turned around, he would be able to find a job and be free of his cyclical schedule. However, when the economy did recover, he still couldn’t find a job. He found that his anxiety returned and sought a way to get rid of it again. Now he thought that he couldn’t find a job because the employers were stupid and didn’t recognize a good worker. Jack’s apprehensive feeling went away after two weeks of asserting that employers didn’t know what a good worker was. Six months later, Jack finally found a job in an office with a local company. He continues to work for this company and doesn’t feel discomfort anymore when thinking about his employment. This situation is unique in that it is an instance where excuses are made to justify the difference between their beliefs and actions.

 

On Reactance

Reactance occurs when an individual perceives a threat to his or her freedom. When this happens, people often overcompensate in their actions to relieve the unwanted feelings of irritation and helplessness. Often, these actions are impulsive and sometimes harmful. When people experience boredom, they feel like it takes away their freedom and as a result, they act on this in a way similar to cognitive dissonance. However, there is a distinction between the way reactance and cognitive dissonance stimulate a response. Dissonance causes a reaction to reduce stressed feelings, whereas reactance causes one to take back a lost freedom.

 

You Can Learn (Some) From Commercials

Click here to watch

About a year ago, DirecTV launched an advertising campaign to promote their satellite TV over cable TV. Part of these commercials involves a chain reaction of events that escalate quickly into something unpleasant. This commercial, while comical, illustrates reactance. The man feels trapped by the cable company, and his need to not feel trapped leads to a series of events that ends with his dad getting punched over a can of soup. This parallels boredom because it often evokes a feeling of restriction. Some may do anything to escape this apathy, and, in their efforts, cause unwanted consequences, such as your dad getting punched over a can of soup.

 

Well That Escalated Quickly- A Commercial Screenplay

INT. APARTMENT- DIMMLEY LIT

 

A middle-aged man sits on a couch in his living room. He seems tired and frustrated.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you feel bored, you feel restricted. When you feel restricted you want to feel free.

INT. GARAGE- DAYTIME

 

The man get into his black Dodge Charger and backs out of the garage into the daylight.

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you want to feel free you visit the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

 

EXT. INDEPEDENCE HALL IN PHILADELPHIA- DAYTIME

The man is touring Independence Hall and sees the Liberty Bell across the street.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you visit the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, you also want to visit the Liberty Bell.

 

INT. LIBERTY BELL BUILDING- DAYTIME

 

The man walks around the Liberty Bell, admiring it.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you visit the Liberty Bell, you want to touch the Liberty Bell.

 

The man touches the Liberty Bell and security guards chase him.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you touch the Liberty Bell you run away to avoid arrest.

 

INT. OFFICE BUILDING- WELL LIT

 

At an office that looks like the DMV the man, disguised in a hat and sunglasses, is handed a new ID by the employee behind the desk.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you avoid arrest you change your name to Cliff Stevenson.

 

EXT. BUSY CITY STREET- DAYTIME

 

A group of dangerous looking men walk around the city with a picture of the man. They are trying to find him.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you change your name to Cliff Stevenson, you make Cliff Stevenson’s enemies.

 

EXT. AN ALLEY- DAYTIME

 

The man runs into an alley, followed by the group of dangerous looking

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

When you make Cliff Stevenson’s enemies, they find you and punch your face.

The camera does a close up of the man lying against the alley wall with a bruised face.

 

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Don’t let Cliff Stevenson’s enemies find you and punch you in the face.

 

This shows the lengths that people will sometimes go to become free from boredom. Sometimes, these lengths are extreme and lead to unwanted consequences.

 

The Phenomenon of Boredom

Marion Martin, Gaynor Sadlo, and Graham Stew conducted a qualitative study of boredom. They studied accounts of boredom in both the work and home environment. With these accounts, they constructed a chart describing the situation, what the participants felt, and how they chose to deal with their boredom (an important detail to understand about this phenomenon). This chart is found below.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 8.20.55 PM

I find it interesting that while the anecdote of the situation changed depending on the setting, the emotions that the participants experienced were the same. The study also shows that it is possible escape states of disinterest by doing other things. I will look more closely at the two described experiences of feeling trapped and feeling guilty about wasting time, and how the participants attempted to alleviate their boredom.

 

The participants who described their boredom as being trapped also reported frustration, and in some cases, depression. One participant described his experience at home as being a caged animal that is stressed and wants to escape. Those who were bored at work most often felt frustration and found it hard to concentrate. These participants felt that they lost their freedom and wanted it back.

 

Feelings of guilt developed in some people who couldn’t manage their time and as a result fell into a cycle of repetition. These participants understood that they should do something productive, however, they couldn’t find something that they believed was worthwhile and productive. This led to feelings of dissonance and guilt.

 

There were two participants in the study who didn’t experience any boredom. One participant learned to meditate at a young age and swore off drugs and alcohol. The other participant found pleasure in simple things and was therefore always entertained. These are rare occurrences but they offer insight into boredom. These cases suggest that internal discipline is an important attribute to have when dealing with boredom. Further, internal discipline can be learned, and therefore one can learn not to be bored. This points to a possible method in which boredom can be treated.

 

Martin, Sadlo, and Stew also determined the main strategy that people used to counter apathy. They found that the most common method during unstructured time at home was to find something else to do. However, this lead to feelings of guilt because they were wasting time by doing random things around the house such as making a snack. It is interesting to note that that doing physical exercise decreased boredom and produced less guilt than other activities because the person was doing something they perceived to be meaningful and healthy. In other settings and situations, they discovered that the diversion tactics that participants used depend on individual preference. One person may find doodling to be liberating, while another might find conversing with a co-worker to be relaxing.

Putting It All Together

The root causes of the feelings associated with boredom stem from cognitive dissonance and reactance. People feel cognitive dissonance when they are in a state of mental idleness because they want to be doing something that isn’t boring, but they can’t find anything better to do. This leads to feelings associated with boredom, such as anxiety, helplessness, irritation, and apathy. Reactance occurs when a person feels restricted by their monotony because they can’t escape it. The person feels helpless and can become irritated. On occasion, people will act out in ways that may be destructive.

There are several ways that one can go about breaking out of boredom. Some methods, such as physical exercise, are more efficient than others, such as switching to another task. Inefficient ways of coping with this affliction may cause feelings of guilt because a person mismanages his or her time. This increases dissonance and leads to more disinterest. In rare cases, it is possible to become immune to boredom by disciplining oneself. It takes practice to get to this point, and few people are able to reach it.

Boredom is a common problem that at this time has no permanent solution and many temporary solutions. Many people study and theorize boredom, but it still persists. The more we know about this unpleasant feeling, the better we can confront and cope with it.

This Is Crazy: Insanity and Human Nature

Boredom is not a universal experience. That is to say, any two people may have two entirely different experiences with being bored. Typically when thinking of boredom, one has the idea of a temporary state of mild discomfort and lack of interest. Most of the time, this is true; we are only feel boredom for a short while before we find something to alleviate it. Most people have not investigated what prolonged and inescapable boredom is like, or how damaging it can be. It is simply not human nature to allow oneself to be bored to the point of self-harm. Throughout time, this idea has been examined in different ways, and the results are interesting. Boredom, when left unchecked, has close ties to the (much more extreme) fate of insanity.

It’s Unnatural

I am no stranger to boredom. And not just the casual, day-to-day boredom that most teenagers would admit to feeling, I mean the kind of boredom that comes from sitting and idling for 5 or 6 hours at a time. My summer job was on a strawberry farm, where I was a designated ‘field-watcher.’ I would sit in a golf cart at the edge of the field and wait for a tractor to bring customers to and from the field site. As one would expect, this very quickly became boring, as there was not much else to do for the sake of entertainment. My solace during this time came from two friends who also worked on my shift. We would keep each other going throughout the weeks, by planning little activities to break up each day. Mostly these were silly projects, like organizing elaborate meals for lunch, or devising pranks to play on the workers of the following shift, or teaching each other from a textbook on quantum mechanical physics. Despite the natural pain in the boring nature of our job, we found ways to have fun. Thinking back on this time of my life, I prefer to reflect on the positive memories I made. Even though I rationally know that our fun came as a product of prolonged boredom, and that still much of the time was filled with being bored, I don’t associate my experience with those feelings. In my memory, the brief moments of joy are much more significant than the hours I spent waiting. The boredom isn’t something that translates well retrospectively. Being that bored isn’t natural, and so it’s like a defense mechanism to not think about it. The same could be said for any similar situation, that it’s just not human nature to be so intensely bored.

A Historical View

“I am persuaded that those who designed this system… do not know what it is they are doing… I hold the slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.” – Charles Dickens

In the late 18th century, the need for a major overhaul of the prison system was recognized. Specifically noted in Philadelphia, conditions of the average prison were deplorable, and the sickness and suffering of the inmates was thought of as cruel and unusual punishment. Locals carried out a movement to restructure the system of incarceration, beginning with the newly built Eastern State Penitentiary. The new system was designed to reform prisoners in the most efficient way possible, by giving them ideal conditions to reflect on their crimes and feel remorse. The state decided that the best method was to put prisoners into complete solitary confinement.

Prisoners were to be given no contact with the outside world or with other persons, aside from the prison guards. Even then, all communication was conducted through a small opening in the cell door. All necessary facilities were built into the cell, so prisoners had no reason to leave. For the entire period of incarceration, which in some cases was years long, prisoners were essentially abandoned, with nothing but their thoughts, and no relief from the insufferable boredom that arose from their complete isolation.

People of status came from all around to observe the new prison system. Some thought it was brilliant. Others, like Charles Dickens, immediately realized the mental consequence that isolation would have on the prisoners. It was evident that the mental health of the inmates was deteriorating, and there were numerous recorded instances of insanity. Prison doctors rarely acknowledged isolation as the cause of this, in order to preserve the image of the new prison system. However, it was clear that insanity was a direct consequence of the utter boredom and lack of stimulation that plagued the prisoners during their incarceration.

From: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/eastern-state-penitentiary-a-prison-with-a-past-14274660

In Literature

            Many writers have explored the consequences of characters that face boredom. One extreme example can be found in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. The main characters of the book, Vladimir and Estragon, spend an inordinate amount of time (though it is unclear exactly how long) waiting for someone named Godot. At various points in their discussion, they reference their extreme boredom, including the mention that they are “bored to death.” As a result of this, and given that they are waiting in an empty and under-stimulating environment, the two are left to contemplate their existence and purpose. They share a good deal of philosophical ideas, arguing with each other about life, its meaning, and many insignificant details in between. The book takes on an existential nature in this way, but the theme of boredom and its consequences on Vladimir and Estragon stand out. The two are self-admittedly insane, a fact that is highlighted by their nonsense conversation. At several points in the play, they become so desperate to alleviate their boredom that they actually contemplate suicide. Their seemingly eternal state of waiting drives them mad (at the least, madder than they were before).

Another literary case of intense boredom exists in Stephen King’s The Shining. The story features Jack Torrance and his family, who travel to spend the winter months as caretakers of an old hotel. A snowstorm leaves the family trapped in the isolated Overlook Hotel, leaving Jack with nothing to do but work on his writing. After a time, Jack is found to be spending increasingly more time alone, and distancing himself from his family. The declining quality of his mental health is indicated to the reader first, when Jack begins having conversations with ghosts and participating in supernatural events. Jack’s wife eventually discovers his problem, when she happens upon his writing, which is nothing more than the famous “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY” repeated over and over, for dozens of pages. That line, in itself, exemplifies the extreme case of boredom Jack was facing as a result of the family’s isolated situation. Ultimately, the story closes when Jack turns homicidal and tries (unsuccessfully) to murder his family, bringing his insanity to a new level. Even though King’s story and Beckett’s play are fictional, they thoughtfully explore what would happen to someone dealing with an extreme case of boredom.
A Modern-Day Example

Genie_immediately_after_rescue

In the 1970’s, an astounding case of child abuse was uncovered. The child, once rescued, was named Genie, and she is known today as a feral child. During her childhood, Genie’s parents kept her locked in a bedroom, strapped down to a chair. Her parents and older brother did not interact with Genie, and rarely spoke to her, except to scold or beat her. When she was finally rescued, she was unable to speak or communicate in any way. She had been totally isolated for ten years, and even worse, during the time critical development should have occurred. One of the researchers on her case has been quoted as saying, “Solitary confinement is, diabolically, the most severe punishment, and in my experience, really quite dramatic symptoms develop in as little as fifteen minutes to an hour, and certainly inside of two or three days. And to try to expand this to ten years boggles one’s mind.” Through extensive therapy, Genie began to show improvement, but was never able to fully recover to the level of mental functioning expected of a normal person.

Genie’s case is, far and away, much worse and more horrific than regular boredom, and it’s not quite fair to say than Genie suffered insanity as a result of her situation. Yet, the basic implications remain the same: as a result of a lack of natural stimulation, Genie’s mental functioning was harmed. The damage that prolonged boredom inflicts upon otherwise healthy people seems to have been exponentiated for Genie, and instead of insanity, has manifested as the inability to properly develop.
From: http://www.businessinsider.com/critical-period-for-language-acquisition-2013-10

 

What Science Has to Say

While Genie, the feral child, was a look at an extreme case of under-stimulation, scientists have recently been looking into the other end of the spectrum. That is to say, studies have been published on what harmful effects can come from day-to-day boredom in otherwise healthy people. Recent findings are indicating that boredom-prone individuals are at a greater risk for other mental health issues. Anxiety disorders, addiction, eating disorders, aggression, and other psychological issues have all been linked to chronic boredom. Depression, especially, has been positively correlated to easily bored individuals in a number of studies, in that boredom can cause depression, and that depression can cause boredom. Boredom has also been found to greatly exacerbate existing mental disorders in the patients studied.

From: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-history-of-boredom-138176427

Much like the implications of Genie’s studies, these recent scientific findings do not directly deal with insanity. Rather, they highlight what unnatural damage can be caused by boredom most people experience regularly. Knowing this, to say that insanity is an eventual product of under-stimulation seems reasonable. It would follow, then, that boredom is, in its very nature, something that humans would avoid.

Thoughts on Thaasophobia

Image

In Technical Terms

There are countless phobias to describe the fears that people have; some are rational, while others seem very irrational. For example, two of the most common phobias are arachnophobia: the fear of spiders, and acrophobia: the fear of heights. These seem rational because both are linked to danger. Spiders can bite and harm you, and falling from a distant height can result in death. Other phobias are less common and are seen by some as being completely irrational. For example, my best friend has sidonglobophobia: the fear of cotton balls. (I was shocked that there was actually a name for this.) Cotton balls cannot harm you in any way, so in my eyes, there is no reason to fear them. Another uncommon and irrational fear is thaasophobia: the fear of being bored. It is common for people to feel discomfort when bored, but some people experience this uncomfortable feeling even at the thought of being bored. It probably seems irrational to many people because boredom cannot harm you, however, no one necessarily chooses what they fear.

So why might someone fear boredom? Typically strong fears form due to a previously traumatic experience. For example, I knew that the 10a drivers were never very cautious, but I never expected to get into an accident. Nevertheless, after being in an accident due to the negligence of a 10a driver, I have started to get anxiety about other people’s driving. I hate the feeling of not being in control because I never truly know whether the other person is paying attention or not. The fear of boredom, on the other hand, might not necessarily be from a “traumatic” experience. I cannot think of a moment in which boredom felt traumatic and a person became afraid of it. It could have been a moment in which a person was forced into something that made him so bored, he began to fear ever feeling that way to that extent again. One time I had to sit in the lobby of a dorm building for four hours during move-in week to help anyone who was unable to get into their rooms because of keycard issues. Of all the people who moved in, only three of them needed help during the entire four hour shift. Knowing I had the same job the next day gave me a feeling of distress because I did not want to have to go through that level of boredom again. It was not necessarily a traumatic experience, but it did create a bit of discomfort.

What are the symptoms of thaasophobia? I said above, anxiety is the most common symptom, as it is with nearly all phobias. Anxiety can be minor, such as worrying, dread, and stress, but it can also affect a person much more and cause sweating, rapid heart rate, and nausea. The level of anxiety varies on the intensity of fear. Therefore, if I were asked to work that boring job during move-in week again, I would be dreading the thought of sitting in that lobby for another four hours. And while that is just one example of a slight case of thaasophobia, it can arise in many others as well. (More information here.)

 

I’m Bored of You

“Never become involved in marriage.” Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard voices this opinion very strongly in his case, The Rotation of Crops. One might suggest that Kierkegaard has his own case of thaasophobia. Throughout his entire work, he summarizes his avoidance theory on boredom with multiple examples such as friendships, marriage, and work.

Kierkegaard believes that one should not get married because it is important to be able to break off a relationship at any moment, particularly at the moment in which it becomes boring. He stresses that even friendships can be dangerous, and a key step in avoiding boredom is ensuring that no friendship is too close not to drop whenever necessary. In addition, he does not agree with the idea of taking a position in the workplace that is not easy to leave. It seems as though he is driven to escape all forms of commitment in fear that he may get bored of it. He is so afraid that he could become bored with his wife, friends, or job position that he avoids putting himself in that situation to begin with. Distance is ideal in order to cope with thaasophobia.

A good use of Kierkegaard’s theory is shown in the song “Bored of Your Love” by Meg & Dia. The song is about a girl who is breaking things off with her boyfriend because she has decided that she is bored of his love. While she sings about being bored, he sings about being in love with her.

“I’m bored of your love.

(I’m in love with your love.)

I’m bored of your face.

(I’m in love with your face.)

I’m bored of your random all over the place attitude.

I’m bored of you.

(I’m in love with you.)”

 

It is interesting because it is as if she has no interest in him; meanwhile, he is professing his love for all things about her. He might be all-in with their relationship, but she does not want to be bored of him anymore, so she realizes it is time to break it off. She is so against committing to him that she even denies his request of going on one last date:

“(Can I take you out just this one last time?

We could pretend I never met you.)

 

Well I’d love to, sounds like a lovely time,

But I’m sorry; I just can’t let you.”

 

She goes on again expressing that she is up to her neck in the boredom and she cannot take it anymore. The girl in this song fears the boredom that is entailed in her commitment and she deems it necessary to just cut all ties. She leaves as soon as the relationship bores her, similar to the way Kierkegaard would act in this situation. Thaasophobia is relevant to commitment in that it controls the way people react. While most would choose to work on the relationship, thaasophobia makes a person want to avoid commitment in order to ultimately avoid boredom.

Facing My Fears

Think of the most paranoid person you know. Now multiply that by 10 and you have me. It wasn’t until recently that I started to pick up a paranoid state of mind. Like I said before, a recent 10a accident instilled into me a fear of other people’s driving. I’m also currently taking a class on natural disasters, and the thought of Yellowstone National Park being the largest volcano in the world (with the ability to kill off the entire world) makes me nauseous. Even the smallest things—like trying sushi for the first time—make me anxious. I am not entirely sure why all these fears have built up over the years.

Going to college at Pitt was a big fear of mine. I was the only student from my high school graduating class who decided to go here, and the idea of not being able to make friends here made me nervous. My best friend at home and I are really weird, and I assumed that people in college would think I am too weird to be friends with. I do not think that I fear boredom to the point of claiming that I have thaasophobia, but I definitely do fear boredom to some extent. I was afraid of not making friends in college and in turn, I was afraid that I would be bored, spending every day by myself. There are many times in which I love the idea of being alone, but lack of social interaction makes me feel like I am going crazy.

Fortunately, I did face my fear of going to a school four hours away from home, without knowing anyone. I have made an abundance of friends here, and they do think I am really weird, but they embrace it anyway. Attending the University of Pittsburgh was something that I really wanted to do, and I was determined to not let my fears get the best of me. Now, I have a similar situation as well. I plan to go to Barcelona in the fall semester, but I do not know a single person who is going. On a side note, I have never even been in an airplane, so this study abroad experience is going to be a huge deal for me. My friend, Tiffany is currently in London, and she says all the time that it is great, but it would be significantly more enjoyable to have these experiences with people that she cares about. She finds some of the excursions boring. I fear that, by not knowing anyone else who is going to Spain, I will become bored too, even though I know that the trips and sights there are going to be amazing. Part of me thinks that I am being totally ridiculous because I probably will make awesome friends and the places I will go to are going to be awesome. However, there is also another part of me that is freaking out because as Tiffany quotes, “It is not about where you are, it is about who you are with.”

Although I fear the idea of leaving the U.S. and only being with strangers for four months, I am still forcing myself to do it because I feel that it is important for one to face his fears. I know that I am being a little bit irrational in thinking that I will not make any friends abroad, considering I will be living in an apartment with multiple other students. Some people might let the fear of boredom linked to new experiences keep them from what they really want to do, but I plan to get out of my little bubble of fear and do what I want, with no regrets.

Do You Ever Get A Break?

Dean is a senior in high school. He is the class president, quarterback on the football team, captain of the basketball and lacrosse teams, and a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, Spanish, and yearbook clubs. When he is not playing a sport, he is either doing something for one of his clubs, working on his homework that is not due for another week, or catering to his cheerleading captain girlfriend, Cali. Dean is always ahead of the game when it comes to schoolwork and his activities. His friends often wonder how he can keep up with all of his obligations, as they can barely keep up with their one or two clubs.

Somehow, Dean manages to keep up with all his commitments, though he rarely has extra time to waste. He typically goes home around 10 pm each night, just in time to grab a snack and go to bed. He then wakes up at 6 am, even on the weekends, and starts his busy day. Lately his family has become frustrated with the lack of face-to-face communication and stopped him to find out why he is never home. The answer was obvious; with so many activities under his belt, Dean does not really have time to be home until it is time for bed. Concerned of his work overload, Dean’s mom reached out to her psychologist to try to get to the bottom of why he puts so much on his plate.

The psychologist told her that Dean has thaasophobia. He fears the idea of being bored, so he makes sure to participate in as many activities as he can in order to avoid ever getting bored. This way, instead of coming home around 6 pm and watching tv in void, he can keep himself active all day until he can justify going to sleep.

Dean is not the only person who does this. There are plenty of people who fear boredom and rack up their lists of activities to ensure boredom never will arise. Sometimes though, they might also do this for fear of how people view them. Doing nothing all day can be considered pathetic, and no one wants to be viewed in that way. In this case, Dean may never really get a break, but this is because he does not want one. A break means he has nothing to do, which means he will be bored, and this idea makes his stress level rise. He is not doing anything wrong, unless he is running himself too thin. If that is an issue, finding help against thaasophobia is important.

Never Thought of it That Way

Thaasophobia may not be a common phobia, but I believe that at some point, all people have experienced the symptoms that are linked to it. No one enjoys the feeling of being bored, and when you know you might have to do something boring, some feelings of discomfort are most likely going to occur. These feelings might be indirectly induced by many situations, including boredom from a commitment, new experience, or even a lack of commitment. Many people probably have never thought of the fear of boredom even being a phobia, but it is a very possible phobia. Since anxiety is the main symptom connected to thaasophobia, there are ways to help treat it with medicine. Though some people may not be able to fight thaasophobia on their own, I believe that the best thing to do is force yourself to fight it and embrace boredom for what it is.

Boredom, Depression, and Degenerative Brain Diseases

Is Boredom a Psychological Disorder?

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Colleen Merrifield and James Danckert have conducted extensive research concerning characterization of boredom in their article “Characterizing the Psychophysiological Signature of Boredom” (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00221-013-3755-2).

They purpose of their study was to explore the signature of the subjective experience of boredom. They exposed 72 healthy undergraduates to standardized video clips that were selected to induce boredom, sadness, and a neutral state. Cortisol levels were measured at the arrows in Figure 1 (below).

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Their experimental design tested skin conductance, heart rate, and cortisol levels while the undergraduates were watching each video. They hypothesized from previous studies that there was a directional fractionation of autonomic response to boredom that could be measured though heart rate (HR) and skin conductance level (SCL). More specifically, HR and SCL should decrease when attention is focused externally, but HR should increase and SCL should decrease if attention is focused internally. From several of these complex variations between HR and SCL with attention and focus, Merrifield and Danckert determined that one might expect to see an increase in HR and decrease in SCL if boredom is connected with inattention and internal focus; however, both HR and SCL should decrease is boredom is associated with external focus.

The results of their study indicated that boredom yields a “dynamic psychophysiological [response]” that differed significantly from other emotional states. The signature of boredom relative to sadness “was characterized by rising HR, decreased SCL, and increased cortisol levels.” These findings may help resolve differing conceptualizations of boredom in present literature and ultimately enhance the treatment and understanding of clinical maladies in which self-reported boredom is a prominent aspect.

As reported in Table 2 (below), participants’ responses during the boring, sad, and interesting videos were associated with lower HRs, cortisol levels, and higher SCL when compared to the baseline, as well as increased arousal. Although boredom and sadness are two different psychophysiological states, we may still be able to use boredom as a tool to overcome depression because it is a prominent and integral symptom of depression. However, since sadness is a “basic” emotion, and depression is comprised of a variety of affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects, it is not guaranteed that it will be able to completely “cure” individuals of their depression. It may provide important progress into the insight of what makes up depression, and non-medicated options in which to treat it, as well as other psychophysiological disorders.

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Additionally, a practical understanding of how boredom may be related to, or differ from, similar emotional states would greatly expand research on human emotion, which is relatively unexplored. It may also aid our understanding of clinical syndromes that are difficult to treat, and in which boredom is a typical symptom (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder).

What Causes Depression?

(http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/what-causes-depression.htm)

It is evident that depression is caused by a combination of malfunctions with the structures of the brain, deficiencies/excesses of certain neurotransmitters, as well as individual history.

So, how do neurotransmitters transmit information in the brain, and how could they cause depression or other manic disorders? These particles travel between synapses in the brain, which cause different parts of the brain to release chemicals, hormones, etc. Brain cells produce a certain amount of neurotransmitters that keep movement, mood, learning, and senses at a “normal” level. In individuals who are manic or extremely depressed, this system malfunctions; for example, the receptors may be inaccessible or oversensitive to certain neurotransmitters, which causes their response to its release to be abnormal.

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The thalamus receives vast amounts of sensory information, and relays it to the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex directs speech, movement, learning, thinking, and other high-level functions. Some studies indicate that bipolar disorder may branch from malfunctions in the thalamus, which would cause defects in the link between sensory input to unpleasant and pleasant feelings.

The hippocampus has an integral role in processing long-term memory and recollection. Interchange between the amygdala and hippocampus is thought to account for our ability to learn from past experiences. In some depressed individuals, the hippocampus can be 9-13% smaller; ongoing exposure to stress hormone impairs the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus, further preventing recovery.

The amygdala is associated with emotions such as pleasure, anger, sorrow, sexual arousal, and fear. It is activated when an individual recalls emotionally charged memories; amygdala activity is higher when a person is clinically depressed or sad. This elevated activity often continues after recovery from depression.

The following link (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/11/memory/brain-interactive) helps to realistically visualize how another brain disease, Alzheimer’s, destroys certain aspects of brain function. It also breaks down which specific parts of the brain do what, in much greater detail than outlined above.

Tramautic brain injury, boredom, and depression

Yael Goldberg and James Danckert’s research, “Traumatic Brain Injury, Boredom, and Depression” (http://rt4rf9qn2y.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/summon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=Traumatic+Brain+Injury%2C+Boredom+and+Depression&rft.jtitle=Behavioral+Sciences&rft.au=Yael+Goldberg&rft.au=James+Danckert&rft.date=2013-08-02&rft.pub=Multidisciplinary+Digital+Publishing+Institute&rft.issn=2076-328X&rft.eissn=2076-328X&rft.volume=3&rft.issue=3&rft.spage=434&rft.epage=444&rft.externalDBID=DOA&rft.externalDocID=oai_doaj_articles_19bfc266730ba7b63322ba12a139ac97&paramdict=en-US) explores the relationship between boredom and depression in a group of individuals with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), mild TBI, and healthy controls. Their results suggest that the connection between boredom and depression is strongest with moderate-severe TBI individuals, as well as a strong connection between boredom and depression (across all 3 groups), as shown in Figure 1.

Goldberg and Danckert also discovered that the need for stimulation from the external environment was the integral driver in the relation between boredom and depression (which was again strongest in the moderate-severe TBI group). Their results indicated that a failure to satisfy the need for external stimulation was a common factor underlying boredom and depression; this disconnect was most strongly represented in moderate-severe TBI individuals.

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Goldberg indicates that the findings might have propositions for the treatment of generalized depression and brain injury. One proposed therapeutic approach is “behavioural activation therapy”, which entails engaging the patient with self-generated goals with positive reinforcement given for achievement of said goals.

Although their research was extremely thorough, Goldberg and Danckert say that there are important steps in the future of this research, which could include following the development of each “affective state” over time in individuals with varying degrees of TBI. Another step is utilizing structural and practical neuroimaging techniques (such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging) to determine the fundamental bases of boredom and depression in the population they monitored.

Boredom: Clue to Alzheimer’s

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Scientists at MIT may have found a way to stimulate an individual’s ability to recover long-term memory. Their new research suggests that expelling boredom may aid memory recovery in patients with degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s (http://rt4rf9qn2y.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/summon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=Boredom+clue+to+Alzheimer%27s&rft.jtitle=The+Advertiser&rft.date=2007-04-30&rft.pub=News+Digital+Media&rft.issn=1039-4192&rft.eissn=1039-4192&rft.spage=26&rft.externalDocID=1262237671&paramdict=en-US)

Dr Li-Huei Tsai’s experiment consisted of observing mice with artificially stimulated Alzheimer’s-like ailments when placed in “an enriched environment”. They were given things such as “an exercise treadmill, an array of colourful toys with various shapes and textures that were changed daily, and the companionship of other mice.” When subjected to memory tests, the stimulated mice were more efficient than those who were placed in bare cages. The mice in stimulated environments also had the ability to recover their long-term memories, even after weeks of training. Although their tests were conducted on mice, there is evidence that environmental stimulation also recovers long-term memories in humans.

An unfortunate fact of elderly individuals is that they are often placed in nursing homes, and they are not interacted with as people; their caretakers just view them as helpless children who can’t do anything on their own, and have no independent thought. In environments like these, those with Alzheimer’s often retreat to their own minds and enter a comatose state. The study previously mentioned that there is a strong correlation between stimulation and long-term memory recovery, but they have only tested this in mice. 

In the following video it is evident that audio stimulation helped this man, Henry, emerge from his comatose state (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyZQf0p73QM).Normally, he is very quiet and doesn’t interact with those around him; Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist describes Henry as an individual with possible depression and Alzheimer’s. After Henry hears the music he is very willing to answer questions and is quite articulate. It appears as though he has the capability of recovering his long-term memory when he is asked questions about his favorite songs, and his past. Henry’s case provides hope and evidence that external stimulation has the ability to draw people out of their mental diseases, and aid in long-term memory recovery in humans.

Conclusion

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As seen through much clinical research, it is evident that there is a way to connect boredom and other brain diseases, psychological maladies, and traumatic brain damage. Perhaps complex neurological issues such as Alzheimer’s and depression have an aspect of boredom layered with their other symptoms; if we find a way to combat boredom in these, and other, degenerative brain diseases/injuries.

Since the field human emotion is relatively unexplored, it is quite possible to discover emotional links (or defects in these links) in mental disorders which could lead to non-medicinal treatments for a plethora of diseases. Overall, it seems that stimulation and genuine interaction with individuals has the capability of returning their long-term memory recovery, pushing away some degenerative brain diseases, and aiding in a plethora of other degenerative brain disorders.