German scientists set out to research an emotion that is hardly discussed – boredom. They set out to study the daily lives of German students. With their observations they categorized the students’ different reactions to dullness into several sections
- Calibrating Boredom
There is a discomfort associated with calibrating boredom, but it is very slight. A subject’s thoughts will wander and be open to behaviors or activities that differ to their current situation. They are not actively trying to change their situation, but they’re still affected by discomfort. People in this situation find themselves not knowing what to do, because of their general openness to all activities that differ from their current state that causes boredom.
- Searching Boredom
A type of boredom characterized by an active search to escape boredom is called searching boredom. Feelings associated with this type are restlessness and anxiety, since the subjects are in constant search of finding alternative actions to minimize their feelings of boredom.
- Reactant Boredom
This type is a more active response than searching boredom. In this case a person has a very strong motivation to escape his or her boring situation. Alternative circumstances are highly valued, in order to in the restlessness and aggression the subject feels.
- Apathetic boredom
The researchers agree that apathetic boredom is the most discomforting and concerning. Like the previous types, the person experiences an unpleasant feeling. However, the resulting consequences are quite serious. Through experiencing low arousal and a lack of feelings, resulting in feelings of helplessness and depression.
Out of all of these types of boredom, all result in an unfortunate state of unpleasantness. This concludes how destructive boredom is to an individual. However, this is not always the case, for there is one type of boredom that results in a positive effect.
- Indifferent Boredom
This final type of boredom discussed on this website is the closest to being positive, or even helpful. Indifferent boredom is a type of boredom where the subject is calm and withdrawn from the external world. This definition suggests that boredom can become a form of relaxation or fatigue. It’s a reaction to boredom that is positive. Those who react to boredom this way are not subject to negative emotion. Rather, indifferent boredom can be beneficial. A person who experiences indifferent boredom could be taking a break from their hectic lifestyle, or just be satisfied with his or her current state of boredom.
All these research findings are interesting, but how do these types of boredom relate to our lives? Four out of the five types describe how boredom can be a disruptive force in life, but if we change our perspective boredom can become less of a destructive force in our lives. Perhaps there are helpful consequences that result from boredom. By understanding what type of boredom we’re prone too, we can learn how to avoid it. Having this awareness can allow us to even become more productive by encouraging us to find new passions, improve ourselves, and even help us relax. So, boredom can even have a positive effect on an individual when the situation is viewed from a different perspective.
If you want to evaluate what type of boredom affects you check out this link.
On an early Saturday morning, my eyes opened to the sunlight coming through the cracks of her blinds. I looked to my right and read my clock— it was 8:00am. As music continued to play into my ears, I realized I had once again slept with my Ipod on.
I don’t remember the specific moment I became dependent on my Ipod, but I do remember how I felt without it. During our family’s frequent car rides during road trips, I always asked my sister to let me listen to her Ipod. But of course, my efforts were wasted since she would always refuse. Form this experience there was a feeling that I distinctly remembered –annoyance. Annoyance came in from the rejection from my sister, but also from the car ride filled with silence.
During a long car ride it’s difficult to find activities to do. After a couple attempts I realized either reading books or playing video games caused dizziness. Thus, I was stuck in an endless cycle where I constantly searched for something to do. The overwhelming time I felt made me restless and anxious. The only form of activity I could do was ask “Are we there yet?”
When I finally received my Ipod my search to prevent dull road trips disappeared. Time seemed to pass by more quickly as I listened to my favorite songs. Road trips became more enjoyable, as I was no longer trapped by time.
For me, there’s always an urge to fill silence with music. In my case, during long car rides, finishing work, or doing menial tasks, it’s hard for me to listen to silence. Bringing my Ipod has become a necessity, just like my wallet or my pencil case. At times when I think it’s lost I become filled with worries and restlessness. These feelings come from the concern of losing expensive items, but also from the fear of the inevitable boredom I’ll eventually reach. During a visit to Boston, I remember clearly the immense anxiety from realizing I may have lost my headphones. A six hour drive back to Philadelphia in silence was unthinkable for me. Luckily I found it in the end, but from this experience my dependency on electronics to avoid boredom was clear.
The fear associated with encountering boredom has caused me to become completely dependent on technology. But my dependency on my Ipod is not just a negative consequence. With music playing through by Ipod, I’m giving myself something that I enjoy, which is beneficial for avoiding boredom. Situations lacking in purpose or excitement seem to be a waste of time. I prevent those feelings of anxiousness and instead engross myself in my passion—which is music. Without experiencing that initial boredom in that long car ride, I wouldn’t have developed such an excitement or passion for music.
Pleasing the Audience
Speakers intend to convey ideas and information to the audiences, but not every speaker is successful. Student attend lectures can find difficulty paying attention to the lecturer for several reasons. Those reasons include listening to a monotonous voice, encountering a subject that doesn’t interest them, and more. To summarize, audiences are subject to feelings of boredom while listening to speakers.
Kristine Bruss has seen these similar views toward speeches through studying Greek rhetoric. During ancient times Greece was known as the country of famous orators, many of which are still studied today. Despite this language rich culture, “boredom” was a word that still ceased to exist until the 18th century, which was much earlier than the Greek’s time. As Bruss began to go in depth into her study, she began to discover more about how the Greek’s perceived boredom while practicing rhetoric.
The particular orator she decided to study was Isocrates. According to Bruss, Isocrates was a man who would judge his speeches and write down observations with minimal bias. He was often known to be concerned about how he presented himself towards the audience. Although the Greeks specifically did not have a word for boredom, Isocrates consistently used the term “ochlos” instead, which mean’s annoyance.
Modern definitions of boredom differ, but they all represent a sense of dissatisfaction that vary in different durations or forms. One specific type of boredom that is related to rhetoric is situational boredom, which Bruss describes as “a temporary dissatisfaction or weariness prompted by a particular source”. With this view in mind, it makes sense that the word Greek’s used for boredom was annoyance, a negative reaction.
In the works of Isocrates, he usually criticizes his speeches by how they affect the audience. He’s aware that he tends to ramble while he’s speaking, and he worries that he trouble his hearers, by making them weary of his talking. The particular words that he uses to describe his unpleasant speeches are enochleo and ochleros, which translate to meaning troublesome and irksome. In all the ways Isocrates describes people’s reaction toward speeches filled with repetition or unnecessary length, they all have a negative connotation, which is mainly related to annoyance. If the audience becomes restless with the speech, an orator becomes unsuccessful in conveying his message.
With Bruss’s study, it seems that boredom was described in a negative context. It was seen as a burden to people, and it caused much dislike. These reactions are very similar to modern reactions to boredom. It’s a situation that people always want to avoid. But what is ignored is the positive consequences that resulted from this experience. Isocrates was aware of his faults, but because of that he became more aware of an effective way of speaking to the masses. With observing the boredom present in the audiences, he knew how to improve his own mistakes and delight the masses with his speeches. Thus, even boredom can have a valuable impact.
You can find Kristine Bruss’s full study here.
Should I Join More Clubs?
Right when the clock hit 7:20am the homeroom bell rang, a sign of the beginning of another tiring day. I see Kate dash into the room, with disheveled hair and holding many things – her flute, lunchbox, and two notebooks. As she sits down she lets out a huge sigh and tries to catch her breath. She smiles as she realizes she made it to school one time.
I turn around saying, “You made it!”
Kate, still panting, replies, “Thanks Dani, I think today was the fastest I ever ran.”
We both laugh and continue talking as the morning announcements continue.
These days I never see Kate take a break. Her life is so fast-paced and never seems to stop and take a break. Even I’m involved in different clubs, but only maybe one or two. For her it seems like there’s too much to handle—robotics, orchestra, homework assistance program, French club, Dance club, etc. A person with an average stamina is no match against Kate. Her efficiency level never fails to amaze me, since it almost seems like a miracle how one person can accomplish so much.
On the bright side, I don’t think Kate has ever been bored. She doesn’t even have the time to be bored! Essentially she’s becoming a workaholic. Sure she’s really successful in everything she does, but she doesn’t seem too excited about it. It’s clear she doesn’t get enough sleep each night, and each day it seems like she gets worse and worse. At first Kate described that she was very passionate in everything she does, but passion isn’t the same as satisfaction. Just where does all her motivation come from?
When you compare it to my life it just seems so dull. I head straight home right after school, and maybe watch a couple TV shows, and finish my homework. I never had a specific passion for anything, so I pretty much do the same thing every day. Sometimes I long to have some sort of passion to make life more interesting.
I’ve thought about trying more activities, and maybe even joining some of the clubs Kate’s in charge of, but why bother? Even if I fill my life with activities it’s not worth the time. One time I even heard her say “When I’m not doing anything, I start to feel antsy. It’s hard to just sit still.” For Kate, business is a necessary for her, but I think having a dull life is more favorable. When I think about it, I’ve never had the urge to pull my hair out from stress and anxiety, so I guess that’s good.
What’s the Secret?
Dullness, monotony, weariness – all the feelings that people want to avoid. According to scientists, individuals linked to those feelings are more prone to ills, both physical and social. Some will participate n result to corrupt activities to escape boredom, by fostering addictions to gambling and crimes, and even causing extramarital affairs. They can even become more willing to risk themselves, if it meant they would experience excitement.
But without people tired with their weary schedules, the entertainment industry would cease to exist. Consumers are constantly searching for something new that allow them to avoid the repetition present in their lives. However, with these materialistic tendencies, it’s difficult to keep producing innovative products to satisfy the general public.
With that point said, what’s a better way to approach this situation? Roy Rivenburg mentions in an LA Times article a better way to deal with boredom. He quotes a psychiatrist that believes that understanding how monotony affects your life. If individuals reflect on their boredom, they become more aware of themselves. From their disinterest in life, it can help recognize what kinds of hobbies interest them, determine important career choices and more. Thus, it’s not accurate to say that boredom causes negative emotions and situation, because if boredom is discussed in a positive perspective, it’s considered to be extremely helpful in life.