You can check your emails and chat on Facebook while you’re making breakfast for the kids. And staring at the sky while you’re waiting for a friend is a thing of the past. Now, you can stare down into your phone and have a game of chess, or check out the scores from your favorite team instead.
It’s true that technology has become such an integral part of our lives that boredom has essentially been kicked to the curb. But there are some who warn that this is not at all a good thing. But hold on- wasn’t boredom always a bad thing? Didn’t someone once say that “idle hands do the Devil’s work”?
It’s definitely true that being busy has been considered an honorable thing in our society. After all, in this world, making something of yourself and being useful to society just isn’t possible when you’re being idle. Or is it?
An increasing number of studies is revealing that boredom is a state of mind which actually provides us with a host of benefits. Some experts say that boredom gives us a golden opportunity to sort out information and devise solutions to our problems. Others liken boredom to a spam filter which helps us tune out the distractions and help the world make sense to us again.
Taking it a step further, two individuals in the U.K. who wrote a paper published in The Cambridge Journal of Education concluded that boredom is much less a state of mind than it is a human emotion, and suggested that the latter be how boredom be officially recognized.
Still others say that boredom opens the door for self-reflection and the establishment of personal identity, two things which are vital to adolescents especially. Just how vital this is was evidenced by observing adolescents as they converse with their peers. It was observed that there are an increasing number of adolescents who don’t appear to be comfortable at all when holding verbal conversations. This may be due to the higher risks of face-to-face communication vs. the self-edited world of social media.
Along with the benefits of personal identity development and self-reflection, boredom also opens the door to our creativity. While boredom may appear like a dismissive reaction to something that no longer holds our interest, scientists say that the brain remains quite active during periods of boredom. Engaging in semi-conscious behavior like doodling can give us the outlet we need in order to get a closer look at an issue or take a break from our hectic lives.
Because of the fact that we are constantly connected via text, email or by way of social media, being bored is no longer an option. And this is removing the opportunity for us to think about who we are or want to be as people, as well as deciding about which moves we want to make to better ourselves and move more easily through the world.
Some have even pointed to technology as the reason we become bored. For example, some say that technology can help us to come up with new and innovative ideas for all manner of projects when we go online to research them. But when it comes time to begin that project, the fact that there are so many distractions to be had online cause us to instantly become bored and loathe to place our noses to the grindstone. Instead, we opt to surf aimlessly or update our Facebook statuses.
Now that you understand more about how boredom can benefit you, will this change the way you think about and use technology? Perhaps it’s something to think about the next time you find yourself doodling on a napkin or folding pieces of paper during a boring lecture or conversation.
- Cambridge Journal of Education paper
Guest author Linda Gregory writes on a variety of topics, but is particularly well-versed in technology. She is a frequent contributor at http://www.internetprovidersphiladelphia.com/, a site that helps consumers review broadband companies in their area.