Roughly about a year ago, I went to see a play based on Anton Tsehov’s Uncle Vanya. As you would expect from a good play and a mind boggling story, it gives you a new perspective on things and you get to wear a new mind set or fresh look on life – even for a brief moment. I guess on a higher level, this particular story kind of made me feel comfortably insignificant – that life is not that much about me after all!
Consequently, the more specific theme that stuck with me for a good while after the play, was the universal struggle of people trying to avoid not being bored and wasting their life in vain. On the other hand, did it really take me this long to realize that boredom is not a new concept, coined in the 80’s together with the launch Nintendo NES? Looking a little closer to it to understand the true purpose for the feeling, people might have been bored long before it was conceptualized anywhere close to be explained in a standard elevator pitch.
But what is “being bored” exactly then? Some definitions talk about a reasonable level of psychological energy without an appropriate object of devotion.. Sounds boring in a complicated way, doesn’t it? Maybe other way to put it in more simple terms, would be that your mind basically raises a flag on wasting your time on something less important that does not for example increasing your chances of survival. Curiously however, the lack of psychological energy and arousing stimulus from environment equals relaxation.
By stopping to think that last sentence for a brief moment, honest to Mom, I have never intentionally wanted to relax in the most obvious ways, like go lying down somewhere and doing nothing. While writing this peace, I realize, it has never even occurred to my mind that I would like or need to chillax. Maybe there is always that psychological energy or I am always aroused by my environment? Who knows, maybe the response to reward is too high for me to win the alleged euphoria of unwinding? Ok, enough about me. I bet this is boring enough already.
When it comes us people in general and when the discussion targets the infamous millennials, or any given last-in-the-alphabet-generation for that matter, the establishment in charge tends to see them in a light of good-for-nothing, ill-mannered, unmotivated, unskilled and bored bunch of people, grown physically attached to their mobile phone.
Nevertheless, there are obviously other takes on the future generations too, as some futurists and work evangelists claim the new generations becoming many times more productive what we could ever dream to be. Who knows, what is going to happen finally, but I am hoping on the latter scenario – even if some of my interest are being dictated by the fact that I am closer to 50 than 20 by my age and I love my excel. I simply want to see this world become a better place.
It might be also worth pointing out that the conservative establishment has always been worried about the next generation and in the end, the kids have turned out alright just to worry about the next ones while being in charge with equally conservative spirit. Sticking with the perception of younger generation being bored over excel sheets, what if they are eventually onto something real and true? Who knows, maybe we should be really doing something else than trying hard day after day to frown at a display, churning out reports, and writing papers no one cares to read unless being forced to?
On the other hand, I don’t think it is entirely bad for kids to get bored sometimes. For example, being bored teaches you to be resourceful. Thinking back about the times, I was a kid, we were never bored – except when being forced to stay put for a while and concentrate on something totally uninteresting.
No doubt, it’s also good to learn some patience and perseverance growing up and not just bath in a stream of endorphin of instant reward. Looking at the famous Pisa report results, simply too many of the boys nowadays seem to be struggling with the difficulty of longer return on investment and they are falling behind in school being compared to girls their age. Having said that, let it be known that I am not blaming the girls for being so good at school -on the contrary. The girls should be proud of how good they are doing and never think anything less of themselves than how brilliant they are with what ever they do.
In the end, reaching the latter phases of our life-cycle, our deteriorating physical and mental state seems to make us more boring for others. Or why else would all those elderly people be so lonely? I hope I will not be unbearably boring to my surroundings when I cannot control myself anymore. I believe this is something I need to start working on already now making myself genuinely more positive.
Who wants to spend any time with a grumpy and judging old man possibly poisoned by his strain, and who just constantly complains about absolutely everything or reminds repeatedly everyone how good it was when we still used fossil fuels in an unsustainable matter?
Not me at least, but wait and see until we get to that age.
All in all, even with possibility of decisive subjective bias, I dare to say that business has gotten more and more boring over the years. Undoubtedly it has got something to do with the current depressive social climate, but also I think we are nowadays more into reasonable yet depressive management of existing realities than managing bravely the non-existent; a vision or a dream.
Without a doubt, many milestone achievements like the Concorde or the opera house of Sydney were epic failures in terms of project management, but you simply cannot associate boredom with them (Yes, opera itself is a matter of opinion, but I am not talking about that now!), that is for sure. Imagine the world without the totally out of the scale space programs of NASA for instance. No thank you. Thank goodness space programs were and are not funded straight from my pocket though.
Finally, it’s difficult to say what the purpose of life exactly is, but maybe we can narrow down the possibilities by saying what it is not. Boredom is probably a strong candidate for things to avoid (even with the paradox of perception of time in state of flow). Just pure survival in mind, being bored can be unhealthy to us via apathy that causes similar stress reaction than a system overflow. Thereby being bored to death doesn’t seem so exaggerating after all!
Thank you for reading! I hope I didn’t bore you.