It is undeniable that the word boredom often accompanies a negative connotation in which people become resentful towards, often times making exceptions and and decisions to avoid it at all costs. But, for what? Boredom has become a part of life that simply cannot be avoided in a normal, average life. No matter the amount of stimulation and leisure time for entertainment, there are still going to be times and instances in which the mind will lose an amount of stimulation, inducing a feeling of boredom. So now that we know boredom’s inevitable appearance time and time again will reoccur, I think it is important that we look at the topic more critically, and to study its effects for good and bad and also its history.
When looking at boredom in terms of time, it has transformed drastically in three forms of time: physical, calender-clock time, generation, and age.
TIME & GENERATION
The physical, calender-clock time and generation and their relation to boredom can be grouped together similarly as each generation is a representation of some point in time over history. Prior to the industrial revolution and development of modern technology, the ability to become bored was much less, as stimulation was stumbled upon much easier and outlets for instant entertainment were not as prevalent. People were essentially forced to create their own mental stimulation due to the lack there of around them. Until the creation and rapid development of transportation, besides with your feet or on a bike, people were essentially confined the small area in which they lived. It wasn’t until the creation of cars, railroads, and planes that people were able to expand their boundaries and horizons and see something not seen before. And also just the lack of technological advancement at the time, made nature and physical activity the only two ways really to escape the chains of boredom. Being inside on a nice day is one of the last things a person living in this time would want to do unless they were in a movie theater seeing a poorly produced black & white film or cooped next to a radio with fellow neighborhood friends. And trust me these same people have not change their ways of thinking, as many elders that came from this generation still participate in the same activities and still have no idea how to use a remote control or use a cell phone.
I can vividly recall my grandparents discussing their early childhood in the 1920’s, explaining how things back then were just simpler. Entertainment to them was helping mother prepare dinner for the family, watering and planting in the garden, catching butterflies, and playing fetch with the dog in the lawn. Now these are all things that we today would not mind doing and would think of more as a chore, however as forms of entertainment on a hot summer day? I think not. And apparently baseball. A lot of baseball. Which intrigued me enough to research the importance and likability of baseball during the early 1900s. Also, in doing research I found that movies were just as popular during this time as a form of entertainment, something that intrigued me as well because to be entertained by something considered today to be boring as hell was intriguing but not surprising.
I also think there’s something to be said about boredom in the workplace during this era. Due to the lack of technology and dependence on computers, people were more physically involved in what they were doing, which created greater interest and pleasure in doing so. It has a relation to idleness because plugging and transferring numbers, data, and statistics into a computer for eight hours a day is as idle as idle gets. However, back then, workers like this would probably transfer it all by hand and then personally package and take it to whoever was in need which simply created a more interactive work environment.
As i said before, the limitations in terms of outlets to conquer boredom were far greater during this time, so stimulation was easily induced in times of the mundane. This concept is relatable to the author Soren Kierkegaard and his essay on boredom titled “The Rotation of Crops”. In his essay, Kierkegaard discusses boredom and its relation to the things that surround your everyday existence with a specific portion that talks about prisoners and their ability to conquer boredom. He states that “The more a person limits himself, the more resourceful he becomes. A solitary prisoner for life is extremely resourceful; to him a spider can be a source of great amusement.” (Kierkegaard par 9). I think this statement closely relates to the lives of those in the early 1900s because they too are forced to manufacture their own amusement simply from things that are put in front of them. Whether it be watching a spider crawl up a wall or throwing a ball back and forth in the yard, each party is easily amused by something that really is not that entertaining in today’s society. In general, during the early 1900s boredom was able to be conquered much more easily than to
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi-Bg7p5fiE up until 2:00 minutes into the video (wasn’t sure how to make this a hyperlink, copy and paste still works)
Keep in mind, this would have been a time in which Americans were returning from the first world war, distraught and fatigued. Therefore, entertainment and a break from the stresses of war was in high demand. Not to mention, soldiers fighting in the first world war had their own fair share of times in which they had to keep themselves occupied in the field. Knowing that, one can easily understand why baseball and movies were so popular during this time as they provided an alternate more visually and physically entertaining than sitting in a ditch probably looking a pornos and smoking cigarettes.
Transitioning into the mid 1900’s when higher level technology was introduced and the realm of computers came into existence, I believe that this time period was the one in which boredom was the easiest to overcome. And to me, personal entertainment and its accessibility was at an all time high. They were in an age when technological advances were coming to the forefront, but the advocation of simplicity that was held in the early 1900s still remained.
The lifestyle of the early 1900s carried over into this time primarily because all of the kids living during the early 20th century are now the parents of this generation. Technology was available to people at this time, but on a very limited scale as most kids during the mid 1900s were doing the same things their parents were to conquer boredom (playing outside, using your imagination, and maybe watching one to two hours of television per day. However, those one to two hours worth of television was probably fascinating to the public, as shows could now be seen on screen and in color, something that had just been introduced.
For me, personally, my dad used to tell me stories of how all he needed on a nice summer day was a backpack of goodies and his bike, and he could do anything. And obviously I would laugh, commenting how video games are just so much more fun and that I’d rather just hibernate.
More so than the early 1900s, the options as far as overcoming the mundane were significantly more. Just think of all the possibilities to entertain one self and to actually be entertainied: biking, swimming, playing cards, catching bugs, playing by the river, playing sports, watching television, listening to the radio, taking a car ride (with the radio on!), etc. And its not just the wide variety of options, it is the fact that each of the activities listed above were mentally stimulating to people in the mid 1900s. And even the simplest of technologies were a fascination of science, and people were easily intrigued.
According to my dad, the only time he would get bored as a kid is when forms of entertainment and privileges were taken away, such as when he was grounded. But to our current generation, I think that is saying a lot. Because today grounding consists of one being sent to their room where there is probably a flat screen television on the wall and a smart phone in the hand of the groundee. And the worst part is, that is still torture to someone our age.
Overall, if you are trying to conquer boredom I suggest you build a time machine and transport back to the 1950’s-ish because it was a perfect time of simplicity and advancement, perfect for surpassing boredom.
Late 1900s – Early 2000s
During this era when technology had reached a peak and continues to make advances into today, boredom reached an all time high. The simplicity of the 50s, 60s, and 70s vanished as more and more technological advances were produced. Things like the computer, Internet, cell phones, and virtual reality engulfed the people living in this time period, thus, pushing things like playing outside and exerting physical activity into the background as they became less interesting and entertainingly stimulating. The fascination and fantasy-like connotation that these devices adopted was enough to completely forget about the little things in life that were once seen as fun.
This is specifically evident with today’s kids and not so much today’s adult. As referred to earlier, the children living during the mid 1900s are now the parents of the kids living in this modern area. And I think that due to their small affiliation with technology back then, that is why they are less reluctant to let their children use the technology at their disposal as frequently as they choose, while still pushing for other alternatives.
It is obvious that due to the striking increase in the availability of technology and its ability to catch one’s attention for a short amount of time, kids in today’s society are less intrigued by new technology year after year. That, in turn, creates less interest in each new piece of technology that hits the market. And if kids are getting less and less occupied by these electronic devices, how will they ever find entertainment in playing outside and doing things that aren’t in front of a glowing screen? Beats me. And just on a side note to clarify and emphasize the point I am trying to make, childhood obesity was not a frequently discussed topic up until the late 90s early 2000s. Could that be because technology is keeping children less active due to their obsession and dedication to electronics? Possibly.
For example, I knew a kid during childhood named David who, in the summer, did the exact same thing everyday for the entire summer break. His days consisted of drinking roughly 4-6 Coca Colas, completing a significant portion of some video game he was trying to beat, eating dinner, and then going right back to the game when he finished. And I noticed that every time I asked if he wanted to do something outside, he would reply saying “Yeah, but it’s too hot.”. And that was his reply every time I asked him. It became frustrating, and I actually remember pondering to myself if these video games had taken over his life and if this is really the only thing that entertainingly passes time for him. It bothered me immensely and to this day I think boredom has steadily increased among people my age and younger.
In conclusion, advancement in technology has made boredom more and more difficult to overcome. It is imperative that one’s keeps their options open and to try new things, even if they aren’t electronic related. I think that the perfect mix of technology and fun in nature is essential in order to conquer the mundane, which is seen in the people living during the mid 1900s.