Medical Museion posts

Boredom is unattractive — but maybe nonboredom is worse?

Always irritating,  but highly readable, Nicholas Carr quotes Clay Shirky saying:

I remember, as a child, being bored. I grew up in a particularly boring place and so I was bored pretty frequently. But when the Internet came along it was like, “That’s it for being bored! Thank God! You’re awake at four in the morning? So are thousands of other people!”

It was only later that I realized the value of being bored was actually pretty high. Being bored is a kind of diagnostic for the gap between what you might be interested in and your current environment. But now it is an act of significant discipline to say, “I’m going to stare out the window. I’m going to schedule some time to stare out the window.” The endless gratification offered up by our devices means that the experience of reading in particular now becomes something we have to choose to do.

Well put! I’ll ask my wife to hide the iPad and iPhone for the rest of the Easter break. I need to develop some boredom so I can concentrate on Fred Tauber (ed.), The Elusive Synthesis: Aesthetics and Science (1996) in order to prepare my presentation at the PCST-2012 in Firenze.

(the bored face is a detail from my How Are You Feeling Today?-poster, produced by Creative Therapies Associates, Chicago, 1989, which I bought in Palo Alto in 1991 and which has hanged in my office for daily contemplation in the last 20 years)

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

More posts by Thomas Söderqvist