Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Boredom's Paging


My main preoccupation is not boredom but rather some measure of anxiety associated with the fleeting nature of time.
Obviously, I experience boredom too. The only times I do so, however, is when I'm divorced from my quotidian program and structure. Travel is one thing that makes boredom pop up. Gadgets that stop working when there are still hours left before departure time, would be one instigator to boredom. Another scenario would be waiting for hours at a doctor's office where phones are supposed to be off and the magazines are at least a year old. Add a lack of personal computers and books in your bag and that translates to inevitable yawning and incessant staring at some big clock from the 80's that's gracing the wall.

However, boredom is not only a high-frequency lexeme in many people's vocab, it's also a high-frequency human experience. A bit from a gripping Times article says:
"Psychologists have most often studied boredom using a 28-item questionnaire that asks people to rate how closely a list of sentences applies to them: “Time always seems to be passing too slowly,” for instance.

High scores in these tests tend to correlate with high scores on measures of depression and impulsivity. But it is not clear which comes first — proneness to boredom, or the mood and behavior problems. “It’s the difference between the sort of person who can look at a pool of mud and find something interesting, and someone who has a hard time getting absorbed in anything,” said Stephen J. Vodanovich, a psychologist at University of West Florida in Pensacola.

Boredom as a temporary state is another matter, and in part reflects the obvious: that the brain has concluded there is nothing new or useful it can learn from an environment, a person, an event, a paragraph. But it is far from a passive neural shrug. Using brain-imaging technology, neuroscientists have found that the brain is highly active when disengaged, consuming only about 5 percent less energy in its resting “default state” than when involved in routine tasks, according to Dr. Mark Mintun, a professor of radiology at Washington University in St. Louis.

That slight reduction can make a big difference in terms of time perception. The seconds usually seem to pass more slowly when the brain is idling than when it is absorbed. And those stretched seconds are not the live-in-the-moment, meditative variety, either. They are frustrated, restless moments. That combination, psychologists argue, makes boredom a state that demands relief — if not from a catnap or a conversation, then from some mental game."
Read more here.

When do you tend to experience boredom and how do you grapple with it?
graph per photogabble

7 comments:

Gina said...

I'm bored daily which is making me even more bored now that I'm acknowledging it.
What bores me are people who go on and on and on about their bad day at work, senseless commercials and reality tv, looking at my wardrobe and how depressingly old my things look, going out with people just because I want to be nice to them even though I don't care much for their company and then I end up playing with my phone and looking at the watch, waiting for the bus, waiting for people who say they'll come by at 7:00 and don't show up till 9, waiting for laundry to get dry, waiting for the floors to get dry after mopping, waiting for the cigarette smoke to leave my living room after I've secretly smoked a few cigarettes seeing that I'm a non-smoker and all. That sort of, kind of covers it. :)

Gina said...

P.S. The jpeg you picked though is making me laugh. Good one.

JJ said...

I actually welcome boredom. It gives me the illusion of having time to myself.

Nicki said...

Some people have a knack for making me yawn. I don't really look at my watch much but I've noticed that I do so compulsively when I'm around the boredom-bringing people. And they're all nice, of course. I suppose one gets bored when in the presence of mediocrity.....
I also get bored in doc's offices. Not at the dentist's though. There, I'm nursing my anxiety so I'm taken care of :=))

Sra said...

This reminds me of an article I read awhile ago about "The Zone" -- a phenomenon in which time seems to slow.

As child, I used to enjoy getting lost in my thoughts, but I find that society these days is so geared toward constantly being on the go and being connected that I almost don't remember how to get lost in my mind anymore. That's a shame, I think.

I get bored at work. Who doesn't? So I do what everyone else does and pretend to be working while I'm actually reading and writing blogs.

Sra said...

P.S. My watch battery died in January and I've stopped wearing a watch since. I like to live in the world of "ish" anyway, but I find it's wonderful not to be in the habit of looking at my wrist all day. Instead I seek out a clock when I'm really curious about the time, but most of the time I know about what time it is anyway.

Anais said...

I dont tend to get bored and when I do I tend to use that time to think about my life, my past,present and future... usw I find this tends to happens when I am alone with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to see.