Boredom: What Does it Mean to be Bored?
That oh, so familiar refrain. “I’m bored!” For some reason, this declaration can strike fear in the hearts of many. But, why? What’s so scary about people getting bored? What’s the fear if you aren’t plugged in every single second? I find it curious that in today’s world with so much at our fingertips, where is this boredom coming from? In a true down moment, when there is nothing going on, entertainment seems to be ready and waiting at our fingertips. What I find curious, is the boredom that people claim they feel even when they are engaged in another activity. I have had a few clients at various points come to me and complain about being bored with their lives. Ostensibly, these people may actually lead very fulfilling lives. Good jobs, good family life and general, overall stability are all things that most people strive to achieve. But, what happens when this is achieved, and it’s still not enough?
This is when I begin to explore with my clients how engaged they are in their lives. Meaning, at the dinner table, do they have one hand on their cell phone waiting for the next call? At their kid’s soccer game, are they looking at their IPads, checking their Facebook account? During family time, are they constantly looking at the clock, counting down the minutes? I once read a satirical story about a college girl spending a year abroad to study. The story started off with the girl on her cell phone, lamenting to her friend how boring her year had been so far. She claimed that she craved real ethnic experiences, and she hadn’t found any. What made the story so humorous was how while she was complaining on the phone, she was missing all the opportunities she claimed she was missing. All the ethnic experiences that she was craving were happening right under her nose, except, she was missing them because she was so busy complaining to her friend on her cell phone. I always find it amusing when I log onto my Facebook account, and I see posts like, “Enjoying family game night!” If one is enjoying it so much, how do you have the mindset to post to FB?
The boredom really comes in when we are spending our time in the current activity either waiting for it to end, or waiting for the next one to begin. How many parents waste their afternoons with the kids, longing for bedtime? How often do parents miss the goal made by their child, because they took that moment to check their IPad? The game is exciting, only if you watch it happen. The afternoon with the kids? It’s can be enjoyable if you participate with them in an activity.