All posts by amr191

What One Thinks about on a Park Bench



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



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”


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 ( 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!”


            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”



            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?”


            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.


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


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.


Look Out! It’s Godzilla!


What is the one thing that people of the modern world (namely 1st world countries) fear most? To answer simplify we fear anything that gives off the slightest hint of the mundane. To us it represents the equivalent of a life threatening disease or a terrifying monster similar to Godzilla. In many ways we desperately try to avoid any conditions or situations that might result in this unbearable creature. For example, that means nothing old, nothing repetitive, less simplicity, and more originality. By the end of my rambling on of random points I hope to pass my knowledge onto you on what I view about boredom in today’s society.
The Movies
In the movie industry today the focus appears on the form of the “wow factor” and how the movie created needs to impress the audience. There seems to be multiple ways to gaining the modern audience’s attention and taking it for a thrill ride if done correctly. First, there exists the proper timing of explosions. The explosions create a rush of excitement for the audience when placed at unexpected times in a movie. Hollywood movies today become synonymous around the world with explosions and endless special effects. Americans appear to be incapable of enjoying a movies without explosions, the common phrase being “that movie didn’t have enough action in it”. The trend of movies evolving began with sound, then color, and now special effects. Some young people may ponder why and/or how people of the past found entertainment in silent, black and white films. At the time of the movie’s creation it surfaced as a new and awe-inspiring invention of modern science, therefore people became impressed enough with just the idea that pictures could move. Over time however people became exposed to movies regularly and it took more to impress and excite the public about movies. This trend of needing more and more to fascinate an audiences during a movie continues today but at a more rapid rate upwards.
Secondly, cinema tries to entice people to come to theaters for movies in 3-D. More and more movies each year come out as 3-demensional movies. This plays off of the use of special effect because audiences experience the high-tech special effects on a closer to first hand basis. Yes, 3-D existed from early on in the creation of cameras but the special effects at the time lacked in realism. With the help of technology movies look more realistic in appearance and seem more like the filming of actually events than the filming of say two toy air planes or puppets fighting. Movie producers want to create an existing experience that makes audiences forget about their own lives and the fact that they remain watching a movie not real events, as a result the experience creates feelings of interest and enthusiasm.
Third, in contradiction to ongoing explosions but in sync with the desire for realism perhaps in 3-D, some directors set out to make movies more like real life. In the past movies focus on impossible adventures and dream come true stories, but many people today have become sick of the happily ever after and mission impossible films. People want a new spin on cinema that shows life how it really happens and the cold hard truth that rarely do dreams actually come true. Producers respond with movies about the day in the life of the ordinary person and the story of their life. Others take an ordinary person’s life and add some unusually factor to attract audience interest but not so unusually that the story turns out hard to believe. The “real life” genre for now maintains the popular style of movies but eventually the public will tire of this topic as well.
Lastly, Hollywood now turns redoing old box office hit movies into an art form all its own. Even the movie Godzilla surfaces as another classic being remade for another round. The film industry wants a successful idea so they turn to past movies, then they update the graphics, the plot, and the cast to entice modern viewers to pay for a movie that already came out decades ago. In many cases this money making scheme works and the remake creates another box office hit by pigging backing off the original popularity of the first movie. However, if the film producer fails in recreating the original movie’s magic along with added flare for the well-seasoned audience, then the movie comes out flop and viewed as an injustice to the original movie.
All these tricks of Hollywood factor into making a movie that “wow factor” on an audience that grows increasingly harder to excite and please when it comes to movies. After over a hundred years since filming came into being, there proves to be fewer ways to create originality that the public has not already seen or can rent on Netflix.
Newer, and Newer, and Newer Technology
Every couple of months or so there always emerges new technology released from major companies. The first example that comes to everyone’s mind usually includes Apple and its continuous parade of new products. Advertisers jump on pushing the latest and greatest technology like the coming soon iPhone 6. If you click the hyperlink you find an entire website dedicated to constant updates on the upcoming releases of new phones, cars, cameras, computers, and more. The tech companies feed off of consumer desires for newer and better things. Back in the days of flip phones, people carried around the same cell phone for years but now people only use the same cellphone for a few months and then upgrade to the next model. Instead of a brand new device many consumers suck themselves into a money pit and constant renewal cycle of keeping up with endless upgrades. Just last month the news reported the story of Michelle Greensmen and her infant son Patrick. Miss Greensmen for a long time enjoyed upgrading her phone to the newest model, she thought keeping the old model for extended periods of time ruined the experience of having a nice phone. Every time her contract was up she upgraded to the newest model as a treat to herself. However, the single mom found trouble trying to keep up with the rising payments of fancier phones despite the two jobs she maintained and struggled to stay financially afloat. This set back did nothing to stop Miss Greensmen’s joy for new phones from turning into an all-out obsession (physiologists are now blaming the obsession on her seeking a means to escape the reality of her difficult life). Finally, when the money ran out for Michelle Greensmen she became desperate for money so she could buy the iPhone 5. She decided to try to sell her infant son Patrick on eBay’s black market in order to make enough money to purchase her new phone. Luckily for little Patrick the local police department scanning eBay for stolen goods noticed the misdeed and stopped Miss Greensmen before any buyers could take action. Today Michelle Greensmen sits in jail day after day and the only activity she completes other than daily necessities (eat, drink, etc.) entails her using her new precious phone and keeping up with its program updates.
Now the story of Miss Greensmen may seem extreme to the common person, but most people do keep upgrading their phones even if nothing appeared to be wrong with the old one. People want new and exciting gadgets to use and spice up their everyday life. For them new features equals new fun and more options to distract themselves while at the office or doing work. About a year or so ago some people may still remember the commercial where everyone in the commercial pretended to lose or damage their phones in order to get new phones that offer more features. Another example, for young adults, children, and the occasional grown man surfaces through game consoles. The new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 drive many gamers wild for new and better game consoles despite the fact that many of them can still use their old consoles without any trouble. Gamers want the new and better features and many (especially kids) begin to view their older models as relics of the past. Why keep the old and already used when you could own the brand new and never before handled game consoles?
Today’s world sees waves of technology to fit consumer wants for innovative and fun-to-use products that keep us entertained and both the desire as well as supply seem to grow as each year passes.
Land of Plenty
In the article “Boredom is a Luxury in a Land of Plenty” Mike McGreer responds to an author on boredom existing as a disease growing rapidly in modern society. Mr. McGreer gives a brief response by saying he agrees that “our technology-saturated society” contributes to increasing rates of people today complaining about boredom. In addition, he goes on to say that he believes boredom exists as a luxury that only people not struggling to survive can experience. He basically claims that boredom is a privilege that should be appreciated because only people with their basic needs fulfilled can enjoy.
Now Everyone’s a Hipster
Whether one means through social media, fashion, or articulating one’s interests, “hipsterism” spreads like wild among America’s youth. Young adults today grew tired of acting “mainstream” and now desire to create an original, individual persona. On social media people strive to say and show interest in original ideas that no one thought of before. Commonly when talking about favorite books, TV shows, or music artists, young adults often put high emphasis on already knowing about or enjoying something before anyone else knew about it. As a result, the growing movement continues toward making oneself more uncommon, unique, and fascinating than everyone else around you. Each person must create a personality and set of interests that no one else came into contact with before. Fashion companies try to make a buck of “hipsterism” by bringing back old and former unpopular fashion items or creating new strange fashion trends to help create the image of an individual with unique qualities. Young adults use the crazy fashion and thoughts on favorite subjects through social media to show creativity and originality from the “mainstream” of society. They go for “I’m not like everyone else, I’m fun and exciting”.
Work Cited

Vending Machines

Every public place someone goes to in America will usually see an assortment of vending machines. Amusement parks, libraries, schools, museums, office buildings, etc. The list of places with vending machines just goes on and on. They all provide snack food to the public, usually the unhealthy kind. Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh has vending machines with many different kinds of snack food.
These vending machines sit there day in day out not moving, and they carry the same products every day. Yes, the machines are restocked regularly and sometimes feature new products, but the type of snack foods supplied does not change. The vending machines themselves do not change either. Exteriorly the machines look the same all the time, and they never change spots or even move an inch. The drink vending machine especially never changes, because the look of the pop bottle on the outside remains the same and the same old drinks are always there.
When going to the vending machines I will sometimes anticipate seeing some kind of new snack or drink. As I walk over I think “today maybe the snack line up will be different” or ”perhaps they have finally added something healthful and tasty for a change”. Unfortunately that is rarely the case. Sometimes there will be a “new” granola bar or bag of chips, but in reality, the new snack is exactly the same as the one it replaced and the only differences that occur are the flavor changed or the brand has changed. I have also experienced a change on occasion in price because the price of the snacks have gone up. As far as I know the vending machine with drinks does not fluctuate drinks, prices, or brand.
Due to the stagnancy of the no change in snack food I always get the same snack. I do not want to be unhealthy and pick junk food that is terrible so I go for the most healthful snack I can tolerate, PopCorners kettle corn chips. Therefore, it is the same routine vending machine trip every time. After so long I get sick of eating the same snack and choosing from the same option and decide not to get anything, but the hope of a new snack keeps me coming back each time I go to the library. For some people I know the lack of change in vending machines snacks also causes them to pick the same snack rather than change and eat something they dislike. They too go up to the machines hoping for new, delicious snack but only find the same options in stock. It becomes a cycle of mundane disappointment.
Just the idea of wanting to get something to eat (something small and yummy) tempts me at least into walking over just to take a look. All I desire is a refreshing energy booster while I take a break from studying or reading, but what do I find? The same two vending machines with the exact same or similar junk food staring me in the face. It’s like Pitt does not want me to chow down but instead actually do work or pack my own healthy food or something.