Let’s get bored


When I was in China last fall I watched a teenage girl on a Beijing subway say goodbye to a friend getting off at a stop. As soon as they had waved goodbye and the doors closed, the girl pulled out her phone and began thumbing away.

This reminded me that these days, all around the world, it no longer looks “normal” to be doing nothing — even on trains, in elevators, in waiting rooms, standing in lines, or walking down the street.

Since we can now bring our personal entertainment environments with us everywhere in the form of phones, tablets and headgear (like Google Glass), all locations and situations are becoming our personal entertainment environments.

We no longer have to be bored in traditionally boring situations…and are likely never to be bored again.

That’s great, right? Or is it…

The continually advancing capabilities of devices (and the media hype that goes with them) suggest to us that we are being further empowered every time we adopt a new, clever, entertaining tech capability.

It suggests that we will be using our devices more and more in the future as they become more and more relevant to our lives, assisting us in every imagineable situation.

As much as I love, use and benefit from technology (and I certainly do), I think today’s constantly-innovating, tech-driven lifestyle is encroaching on our time and freedom to just be.

In other words, we are running out of opportunities to be bored.

I recently read an article in an inflight magazine about boredom (picked up because I was bored on the plane). Various points were made by various experts.

β€’Research suggests that when you are bored your brain begins to create new neural pathways and connections within itself, leading to creativity, new thinking and other benefits.

β€’Our constant interaction with technology and screens is actually bad for our creativity and can result in a lack of originality.

β€’An example was given of a scientist who values her bored-time so much she refuses to use her laptop on plane flights — only a pad of paper and a pen, and only if she really needs to remember something.

We associate boredom with undesirable attributes like laziness, lack of motivation, non-productivity, arrogance and apathy.

Who wants to be (or look) bored? If you are bored — the current lifestyle model tells us — there is something wrong with you.

I was frequently bored as a boy growing up in a small town in upstate New York. My siblings were years older than me. I lived at the end of a private road surrounded by woods. Most friends my age lived miles away, requiring rides from parents if we wanted to play together. It was often up to me to entertain myself.

I learned to enjoy playing alone, and being alone with my thoughts. I had no particular agenda, I was free to adopt an idea one minute and abandon it the next; to invent, explore and discover what was inside as well as what was outside. I had a rich, lively, original inner landscape — powered by boredom.

Today I am convinced that the habits I developed from being bored as a child — proactivity, a love of exploring, openness to new ideas, being comfortable with myself — made it possible to connect strongly with creative outlets like writing and guitar playing later on.

I still see boredom as the starting point for creativity, insight and adventure.

I see it as an opportunity.

I see it as freedom.

Boredom compels you to solve the problem of being bored. It causes you to look around, literally and metaphorically. It can result in unexpected solutions, perspectives and new thinking.

Next time you feel bored, try resisting the impulse to reach for your phone and, instead, let yourself be bored for one minute. You might suddenly find yourself exploring a more interesting device: you.

This entry was posted in Creativity, Culture, Health and Well-Being, Neuro-science, Psychology, Technology, Thoughts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

209 Responses to Let’s get bored

  1. Diane. says:

    I loved this post! I’m lucky, never been bored that I can remember! I suppose that’s why I’m not creative! Thanks Preston.

  2. Jake says:

    This is one of the best things I’ve read in ages. You have honestly changed the way I view boredom.

  3. zimbardoea says:

    Heh, I read the same article, Preston πŸ™‚ I hardly ever get bored, not because I grab my phone or tablet, but because I can be with myself. At times, however, boredom can become quite the burden. Then, exactly then, is when I start doing something creative with my hands. See Saoirse πŸ™‚

  4. Marcus says:

    Love it. I totally agree. I can’t remember ever being bored not once. As a creative, I don’t think it’s possible.

  5. James Ashby says:

    Silence and stillness aren’t boredom yet some people equate the two. Having nothing TO do and actually doing nothing are not inherently bad. Being bored can be THE greatest creative stimulus we have. I well remember the call-and-response of ‘I’m bored’, ‘Well, find yourself something to do’!
    It seems we’ve lost the art of finding ourselves ‘something to do’, we expect it to be found for us – and if the banal games on our electronic crutches are all we find to do, then our creativity as a species will just die out.
    We’ll be great at Candy Crush though!

    • fretgenie says:

      I totally agree, James. I think boredom is something that needs to be “brought back” before we forget its benefits and lose ourselves even more in the tech/innovation mill.

  6. ericnewsome says:

    Hey Preston that’s one big statement you’ve come up with. I agree 120,5%. I like being bored. I’m actually more of a loner. Call me a sociable loner. I like people but I need time for myself more than other people. Actually when I’m bored I don’t try to find new ways of thinking, creating. I just live the moment, see what boredom’s all about.
    I try and fight the invasion of technology as much as possible. Even though I’ve got a so called smart phone, given to me by my former boss, I mainly only use it to call and be called. I never use anything on the plane. I can’t have it invade my life. Some people say I’m against technology and I adhere to that. It’s going too fast and far.

    Anyway I dig your letters. There very humble and are full of new thoughts for the soul and so on and so forth.
    So continue writing and playing your amazing music. You’re a winner. Winner of what? It’s up to you to find it out!
    Thanks a mill.

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Eric. Love what you have to say about technology, and agree. It is going too far too fast and no one is standing up for the individual self amidst the assault. Strangely, boredom does.

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Eric. Love what you have to say about technology, and agree. It is going too far too fast and no one is standing up for the individual self against the assault. Strangely, boredom does.

      • ericnewsome says:

        If “fretgenie” is you Preston, well I’m honored.

        Will you be coming to France (Alsace) soon, by any chance? It’s a fine part of the country I must say.

        I came to see you work some magic in Lille back in ’12. I take it you went and had a drink with some people after the concert. I wasn’t able to what a pity.

        I like what you have to say and would like to try and have a chat if ever you come over to Alsace.

        So after this said continue creating amazing music and enjoy being bored (to some extent).

        Eric Newsome

      • fretgenie says:

        Hi Eric,
        Yes, it’s me. When I started this blog in 2006, the name Preston Reed was already taken by another Preston Reed :^( So the blog is named after my e-mail handle, fretgenie.
        I would definitely enjoy speaking with you if and when I come to Alsace. Glad you enjoyed the guitar Masters show in Lille. Thanks for saying hello, and…stay bored :^)

      • ericnewsome says:

        Great, I shall do.

        Write to you later.


  7. Karl Drobnic says:

    Having nothing to do results from having satisfied all your obligations to the world outside yourself (at least briefly). The interludes when this happens are all too brief. But a little thought and experimentation can expand your quota of “bored time”. Replacing a cell phone with a land-line and an answering machine is a good first step. If you do happen to answer your land-line “live” once in awhile, try speaking in a foreign language (make one up if need be). You’ll be pleased at how many people stop calling. Soon you’ll have freed up enough “bored” time to create more and more ways to thwart the world’s ceaseless desire to bother you.

    • fretgenie says:

      Great comment. Love your suggestions and point of view. Wish I could replace my cell phone with bored time. Unfortunately I use it constantly for everything. Those clever bastards…

  8. odiousghost says:

    I so agree. Zlthough, as the saying goes – you’re never alone with a mobile phone

  9. Read the same article on a plane. Totally agree.

  10. Great post and great point! I myself just had a boring Saturday, with no small thanks to the sub-freezing Chicago weather that forced me to stay indoors. Since I was bored, I ended up trying out a new delicious recipe and re-watched an old favorite film, Hot Fuzz. It ended up not being a bad day at all πŸ™‚

  11. L. Palmer says:

    Growing up, if we said, “I’m bored” my mother would find a chore for us to do, thus all of my siblings and I quickly learned ways to be creative and productive. One year that really helped me was when the TV broke. It was great ground to build our creativity.

  12. We shared the same childhood and I concur with (and resemble) your results. I was always miles ahead of my peers in creativity but all that solitude and freedom came with a catch: it did not train me to tolerate idiots around me. I’m not sure it’s a handicap.

    Rock on.

  13. I stopped reading at “interaction with….screens is actually bad” πŸ™‚
    We let our kids get bored on purpose, & not over-schedule; It does force them to come up with ideas of their own. Great post !

  14. Anthony King says:

    Reblogged this on Survivor and commented:
    How much does technology impact us in our daily lives? Quite a bit. Our brains are becoming wired to technology, but does your brain really need it? No. What is boredom? Boredom is the state of being bored; bored being to weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions, etc.; finally, dullness is not lively or spirited, listless (Dictionary.com).

    How can our lives be filled with things not filled with life or spirit? It can’t. There is constant movement, there is constant action, everything is lively. How should we view boredom? Preston mentions it, “See boredom as the starting point for creativity, insight and adventure….See it as an opportunity….See it as freedom.”

  15. From an ink smeared page says:

    I love the way that boredom can spark creativity. Although too much boredom isn’t so great πŸ™‚

  16. Kaiprt says:

    Reblogged this on kaiprt and commented:
    Great point on why it is important to be bored!

  17. Fraukje says:

    I just hate to be bored, but somehow you make it sound real interesting πŸ˜€

  18. ε€±εŽ»δΊ†η”·ε­© says:

    Reblogged this on ι›²ζ•£ιœ§ζΆˆ.

  19. jamiellao says:

    This is a great post. I remember complaining of being board as a child and my mother saying, “go read a book”. Today, I hardly ever get board because there is always some type of technology to pick up. I am going take your advice and embrace a little boredom.

  20. Thank you for writing this. I am always sad for people when I see them glued to their cell phones. In addition to missing out on boredom, I feel like our technologies are impeding on social intelligence. What do you think? I notice that in potentially awkward moments and at social gatherings people often escape into their phones rather than put themselves out to meet new people or start up conversations. Our technology has become a pacifier for adults.

  21. Congrats, Preston! You just made me look forward to boredom.

  22. guspovblog says:

    I couldn’t agree more – thanks for the post! (anecdote: I actually found myself being the only person NOT on a device while waiting in line the other day. It was great, I took the time to take in my surroundings and actually think about all the poor souls who HAD TO BE CONNECTED!!)

  23. Well said, Preston. I just took a minute to be bored. One minute and three seconds, actually (timed myself). It was difficult. I usually take walks and pray when I start feeling all scattered and accelerated. It helps with my writing, too, refreshes me. Patience is important; it’s the only way to win the race.

  24. elmer says:

    I used to spend the whole day sitting around the house. In our veranda in particular. This is in college days, late eighties, no computers whatsover. I would go to school then go back home and sit around again. I dont feel bored. Never. I watched people pass by but my mind wanders. I dont know what they think of me. Then a few friends would come along and sit with me. My father would say “Be productive.” LOL. But we were loafers and we never wanted to be reduced to the life of getting-and-spending..like the ant. We want to live. Play good music. Watch sunlight on the trees. Talk about nothing. Enjoyed Thoreau, Wordsworth.Or simply sit in silence. Loafing is an art. And there’s wisdom in sitting around. If I had to do the same again I would my friend, fernando.

  25. gennyloves says:

    My phone battery dies on me regularly. It’s a blessing and a curse!

  26. Manisha says:

    This is so true. In the hustle and bustle of life, I feel like being bored is a stressful situation that I have to break away from. But you’re right, we have to let ourselves be bored – it only helps to ease the mind and that’s when great ideas have the freedom and liberty to spark in our minds. Thank you for writing this and reminding me of the importance of boredom!

  27. ploxo303 says:

    I love this post so much. Completely agreed with you! I myself developed colorful and wonderful inner landscape back in the old time. Boredom gave us the opportunity to explore ourselves in deeper sense

  28. Fantastic! This idea has been slowly convicting me for some time now..thanks for the great post

  29. jingw222 says:

    Reblogged this on jingw222 and commented:
    This really hurts

  30. bristlehound says:

    I have built my career on getting bored. Should it be outlawed I will be out of a job. Getting bored is the beginning of all things new. We need to wipe our slates clean before we can mess them up again. Here’s to boredom and long may it survive. Great post.B

  31. jingw222 says:

    cannot agree more with you

  32. ladyashley1991 says:

    I like and agree with this post. I have felt a little weird before because I used to be in the US Army and have often been stuck in lines just waiting. As I look around I have seen countless people on their phones and here I am just sitting there looking around or lost in my own thought. I actually enjoy losing myself in my own thought verses losing my head in an iPhone game or what not.

  33. franhunne4u says:

    A reason for me not to buy a smartphone any time soon. A phone more intelligent than me would not be welcome.;)

  34. MissFit says:

    Yes . Yes. Yes. After my own heart on this one. Check my article Be A-Ware at http://www.phoenixfit4life.wordpress.com Great bored minds think alike πŸ™‚

  35. Beautifuldisaster says:

    Reblogged this on Positive suggestions.

  36. kadyc4n says:

    Reblogged this on Kady's Reviews and commented:
    There’s more to boredom than being bored…..

  37. What a great post! Thank you for writing this. It is so true that we are always looking to fill up unoccupied time with technology that we don’t have time to be alone with our thoughts and think. We also tend to use technology in times when things are not interesting to us. I think though that life is all about finding balance – with technology and with boredom. That is why I like how you give a set time. Thanks for making me think! Sometimes its good to be bored πŸ™‚

  38. Jadey says:

    Reblogged this on jadeyhamidon's Blog and commented:

  39. simonsomlai says:

    Yeah, totally agree! Boredom is a signal that we need more excitement in our lives. We shouldn’t escape/block this feeling by using technology. Great post!

  40. susipet says:

    Enjoyed this. Thanks. I always watch all my fellow underground travellers with fascination. Almost everyone is linked to a device. Almost no-one notices anything about his/her fellow travellers.

  41. kelalisha says:

    Reblogged this on kelalisha's Blog and commented:
    How true indeed!! And I totally concur with you that spending some time looking around (instead of your cellphone) does lead to nice discovery. πŸ™‚

  42. harfdukkani says:

    Reblogged this on harfdukkani and commented:
    Nice words about boredom!

  43. I am actually excited to know I am not the only one who has these thoughts! This is absolutely true and I constantly challenge myself to be comfortable aware of the world in real life when alone in public. I will share this!

  44. jtbv says:

    I love leaving my cellphone in my pocket while I’m waiting. Whether it’s on the train, on the street or at some doctor’s waiting room. It allows my thoughts to flow freely, it is in these moments that I realize what my ambitions are, what I’m proud of and how to solve my problems.
    I wouldn’t say I’m bored during those times though, it’s actually very stimulating.

    Another reason I like to “do nothing” in public is because it allows me to interact with people around me. I make eye contact and just smile. It’s amazing what this does.
    People rarely initiate conversations with each other in public unless it is absolutely necessary.
    This is such a shame because talking to random strangers can really enrich your view on life.

    One of my philosophies is that everybody has an interesting story to tell and everyone can teach me something new. Starting a conversation doesn’t have to be difficult at all.
    As soon as you sit down next to someone, just look them in the eye, smile and say hello. This is enough to break the ice and it makes talking to them later on less awkward.

    But how do you start a conversation after this initial greeting?
    Let’s pretend I’m sitting on the train and across from me is a woman. I would simply observe the way she looks, is she wearing anything that stands out to me? jewelry, a tattoo, a nice scarf, shoes, t-shirt, anything.
    Let’s say that in this case she is wearing a necklace that I like. I would simply compliment her on the necklace and ask her how she got it. Jewelry often has a story behind it.

    something else I like to do is the following:
    I have this app on my phone called “tic tac toe”. It’s a simple game that most of you will know. sometimes I’ll start this game, put a cross in the middle and hand the phone to the person next to me without saying a word. After the initial surprise, the person will usually smile and play along.(I admit you’re still using your phone but I’d say in this case it’s allowed πŸ˜‰ )

    A last example to show you how easy it is to interact with others:
    The other day I was sitting next to a female college student on the bus. I was studying during the bus ride(I’m a college student myself as well). Suddenly, I noticed that on the next 3 pages I had marked pretty much all text as “important”. I started laughing and ,knowing she could probably relate to this, I asked her if this happens to her as well. She said she did and the conversation went on from there.

    As long as you make eye contact and smile it’s almost impossible to annoy someone, starting a conversation with strangers doesn’t have to be scary.
    Give it a try!
    You will notice this does wonders for your mood, your mind and your life in general.
    My own blog is about law and international politics.

  45. leenap23 says:

    I treasured my solitude earlier. I miss those days. You have written it so beautifully. Yes, with gadgets around we are never alone. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  46. 9minnon says:

    Sometimes it’s just nice to see the flowers, watch people going about their day, or just think about things. I recently had 3 days without any apps, and they were quite nice.

  47. We’re not bored, we just need some of that time to wander and ponder around, just like how people walk their dogs. We need to walk our thoughts sometimes a little too.

  48. Reblogged this on Seasons and commented:
    Walk the thoughts and let them wander and be free

  49. darearts says:

    I really enjoyed this. When I was a kid, on the airplane, I had some paper and a pencil. I drew. I never said “I’m bored ” in my life. Thanks for reminding me to put down this iPhone and just be.

  50. Flore Leng says:

    I love the way you write, so interesting :p

  51. karolinakaim12 says:

    Ah, that’s true. The art of doing nothing is actually fading… which is bad. It gives less opoortunities to even meet somebody! Because how do you come up with a chit-chat when someone’s fingers are about to fall off… lol

  52. Grace says:

    Wow, I really love this post! Thanks! You have really good advice. I can totally connect to what you’re saying because my mom keeps telling me to limit myself on my iPod touch in the car, and pay attention to other things. It’s not like I’m addicted to it, I just get SO bored of the highway and turn to the iPod for entertainment.

  53. R.J. Koehn says:

    This is a great post. I’ve been thinking about the same thing lately. Growing up I had to entertain myself quite a lot, for the complete opposite reason you had to. I was the oldest, siblings didn’t come until several years after my birth. My parents were young and struggling, so I had limited toy options and lots of out doors time. Now when my life starts to fall apart or I am struggling with things I step back and realize, I haven’t been taking that down time, or ‘boredom’ time that has been essential for me since I was little. Boredom…unplugging, especially important now.

    • fretgenie says:

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. Yes, it is vitally important to make the time and space to unplug from technology. Here’s hoping more of its addicted users figure that out. Glad you liked the post.

  54. rhinsy says:

    what if boredom is all you get from life…. not a fan of thumbing on phone but it does make me look wierd when im waiting for a friend at subway station and i stare at the world around me,then realising they are staring back,i take out my phone and pretend to do something in it,”when im actually just looking at pics of hens i took last year at my aunts house”. Funny how we cant even stand still for a moment… without clicking at anything..

  55. Francesca Maria says:

    It’s so stressful…people are going crazy trying to keep up with everything that is going on with the social networks and web in general. Here in Sicily we still aren’t that advanced…thank goodness!:)

  56. Pingback: Shared from WordPress | Shhhhh...! (A Cup of Emotions and Thoughts)

  57. Less than a year ago, I moved to a new city, I didn’t know anyone except work colleagues (and I didn’t associate myself with them). I couldn’t afford cable tv or the internet for the first few months because I didn’t know if I would be able to afford food each month. I was bored. So I started to design jewellery. And then make it. Now I have my own small business. I never thought I was a creative person. Now I have dropped my normal working hours to part time to focus on my business. I have internet, I mostly use it for my Etsy page. I still don’t have cable. I don’t need it. I am no longer bored.

  58. aarti8692 says:

    I loved this! Well written! I totally agree with the part about boredom leading to creativity!

  59. shammee says:

    This post was like a wake up call for me , I used to get bore and than that led me to do creative stuff, but since quite a while I had been so busy , I just didnt get time to “GEt BOREd” …. & now I am going to take time out … just to get BORED… Awesome … Thumbs UP !!!

  60. Is it “boredom” or quietness and introspection that we need? I like to take the time and listen to that very quiet inner voice that is drowned in the cacophony of busy life. We have bought into the idea that to exist meaningfully, we need to be doing something, constantly. We desire “connectedness” via our smart phones, and twitter feeds, and social media updates… we want the full charge of participation – and yet, sometimes what is needed is quiet observation, and figuring things out on our own. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your post, but I am thinking that it’s not boredom you want, but purposeful moments of quiet.

    • fretgenie says:

      It’s boredom I want! It might mean quiet time…or it might not. It might mean “meaningful” time…or it might not. The point of boredom is non-designated time, self-time, “purposeless” time with which to discover new inner landscapes, new ideas, new directions, new purposes. That’s where the freedom lies.

  61. sheespeaks says:

    I can’t help but feel hypocritical as I read this on the trolley heading to school…on my phone lol! However, its very true. With todays technology we don’t see a reason for being idle. I notice we also pull out our phones to avoid awkward situations. If I’m sitting directly across from someone on the trolley or bus, I pull out my phone to avoid looking in their direction. Why not just strike up conversation with the person? I ask myself. I actually made a podcast on my blog titled “Is Social Networking doing more harm than good?” I’d love for you to hear it. Well I’m gonna put my phone away now. πŸ™‚

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed your podcast. I think being stuck in any behavior pattern represents a loss of self. It is always good to check your habits and patterns and ask yourself if this is the best use of your time in this short life. If the answer is yes, then Facebook away. But if the answer is no, then it’s time for a pattern interruption.

  62. Richard says:

    Bored time, or downtime as I prefer to call it, gives me a chance to ruminate on the diverse possibilities open to me. The list is endless! Only 24 hours in a day and I usually spend a third of that sleeping, if i`m lucky. After using five or six of the remaining shopping for,preparing, and eating food, then probably a total of an hour in the bathroom, give or take. No work because I am retired. Probably another hour deciding my next activity, leaves me about 8 hours a day to amuse myself doing things like this. I spend a lot of time on the computer because it`s more interesting than most of the people I meet. Interesting people are often too busy to sit and chat because they are involved in interesting activities. I do not have a cell phone or any other social networking devices, just a land line and a computer. It`s enough. I do not want to be accessible to everyone all the time. Like I said, I don`t find them all that interesting. I used to rush all the time, but have learned to slow down and enjoy the process.
    Retirement is great, providing you have enough dough to pay the rent and buy enough food to keep body and soul together. People might think I am bored if they see me sitting on a park bench watching the world go by, but I am creating back stories for the passers by, that are probably more interesting than the lives they actually live. Oh yeah, I love watching the pretty young women going by. Occasionally they will give me a flirtatious smile and I wonder if it`s because they are attracted to this handsome old man, or if they are just being kind to grandpa. Most certainly the latter.
    Sometimes I get bored watching TV, but I am not sure if it is boredom or just disgust at the quality of the programming. Again, probably the latter. Thats why I am very selective on what I watch. But thats another subject altogether.
    This is a great topic. Good work.

  63. bearshouse says:

    On a spiritual practice pat of boredom. Things are coming full circle when you can get a free meditation app which will hold all calls and notifications, will give chimes to mark the time and remind you that it is time the practice. Wild.

  64. megansmith95 says:

    Thanks for this reminder. I tend to pull out a device every time I have to wait somewhere and have realized how much it kills my imagination and creativity. Thank you for the encouragement to put it down!

  65. monty3038 says:

    I remember some bit of confucian or other brand of logic that said… ‘You can’t hear yourself until you are silent’… and your post reminds me of that. Nice post.

  66. Cindy says:

    Growing up, my mother always said “only boring people are bored”. I hated it every time she said it but I always found something to do.

  67. sharucka says:

    Reblogged this on Sharu's Lair and commented:
    Aburrirse tambien tiene cosas buenas

  68. cn0213 says:

    Reblogged this on cyannblue and commented:
    I love thisss.

  69. bronwynbataillard says:

    Reblogged this on Daydreams of Bohemia and commented:
    This is why I fear technology! I really dig this post, it definitely helped put my worries of being bored to rest.

  70. kaleighrea says:

    Loved this πŸ™‚ Check out my blog! http://newfoundgrace.wordpress.com

  71. dliw canis says:

    Reblogged this on dliwcanis.

  72. Now I see being bored as a benefit. Loved this post!!!

  73. chadbray says:

    Really great post. We can all take away from this.

  74. Mangesh says:

    I am not sure if the definition of boredom is correct. Doing nothing and being in the state of “just be” is such an absorbing and serene experience, like a pure flow of Ganges without any obstacles of thoughts. No way should we call it boredom! I think title β€œLet’s do nothing” would be more fitting! It has the great potential of creativity. After all don’t we get bored even with those ever entertaining stuff? Of course we do unless we get over them rather than them getting over us!

    • fretgenie says:

      Boredom is the moment before you realise you need to just be, do nothing etc. It is a state that might lead to “an absorbing and serene experience”…or it might not. It is the matrix from which we could go in any direction, good, bad, creative, dull, serene or upsetting. It is an experience of self that I think is currently under threat from technology. I am proposing that we look at boredom as a valuable — and ultimately nourishing — place of freedom and potential that should be understood and embraced for its benefits, not automatically avoided.

  75. beenough says:

    Yeah for boredom. Great post!

  76. koolkiddkzn says:

    Reblogged this on Koolkidd's Corner and commented:
    I found this article rang so true to me, I just had to share it.

  77. So true! I definitely agree. I wrote a similar piece about the power of unplugging and enjoying organic moments in life.

    I definitely find that the more I use technology in my down time as a habitual thing to do,I don’t cope as well with boredom. I get more easily frustrated by it and feel unsatisfied when flicking through my iPhone gets old.

    Wise words – a great post indeed πŸ™‚

  78. Ana Linden says:

    We have indeed reached the point where we’re no longer able to spend a moment alone with ourselves or observe the world around us; instead we hide behind a screen, a keypad, or whatever else technology has to offer. I’m glad to see that others notice this issue too. Great post!

  79. GalOnTrip says:

    coincidentally, i seldom update, check status, play games, chat and reading articles in any moving vehicle since i have motion sickness. though once in a while i check my smartphone while waiting for someone. but yeah, i realize motion sickness could a blessing in disguise. not only i can rest more (aka sleep) during the traffic jam, but usually my imagination runs wilder in times like that, often bring me more ideas to update and fix my ongoing blog articles and so on.

    i agree, nowadays we need to try to switch ourselves off from smartphones once in a while. we should be smarter than the smartphone, not the other way around.

  80. Almost Iowa says:

    I cannot think of anything more boring than thumbing trivia into a keypad. Boredom is more than lack of stimulation, it is lack of quality stimulation.

    Give a kid a cardboard box and watch as they create quality stimulation by pretending it is a spacecraft or pirate ship.

    The real question is: how do we lose that?

  81. Tom Duhamel says:

    Thanks. I needed to someone to remind me why I don’t own a smartphone.

  82. astra says:

    I lead a boring life, I guess.. but I love every minute of my boredom

  83. laurie says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I was bored last week and feeling guilty about being bored. I said to my husband that I was bored and he apologized. “Not your job to entertain me”, I said, and found something creative to do after wandering the house for about an hour. I think it took me that long to adjust to not being plugged in to anything. More “be” time instead of “me” time.

  84. talktotrina says:

    Wow this is great and just plain true. I don’t remember the last time I have been on a bus and haven’t noticed that people are occupying themselves with their phones or Ipads.

  85. quintana365 says:

    My compliments on a strong, true post. One of the ways I pass the time on the train is counting how many people are connected to their electronic umbilical cords (headphones). So many people with their heads buried into their small screens. Mind you, I do own two nook readers, but I have them for that purpose; to read.

  86. Pingback: Being bored and your creativity | The Night Owl's Guide to Reading

  87. Mythoughts76 says:

    What? We’re running out of opportunities to be bored? Just say No! to your handheld entertainment. Don’t turn it on. Like my mom always said “If you’re bored, it’s your own fault! Go find something to do!” So I would go pick up that book I was reading (but wasn’t in the mood to read for some reason), or I’d get out my art supplies and create some artwork, write a letter to my cousin, call a friend, bake some apple crisp. There was always something to do. People with obsessive thinking might not ever be bored, they think themselves to exhaustion! They live in fear of the future. Actually boredom allows us option of a nice nap!

  88. Excellent post: well-written and well-reasoned. I couldn’t agree with you more on the topic of boredom. As a writer and artist, I daydream a lot. Sometimes, I’ve been known to lie in bed, eyes closed, but not asleep. I’m sure most people would assume I’m lazy, but I’m exploring, plotting, building and tearing apart stories and characters.

    Creative thought isn’t like logical thought; it requires the distraction of the constraining, logical voice that tells us things can’t happen that way. It requires the suspension of disbelief.

    Many, including myself, have noticed that repetitive movement (like rocking in a chair or embroidering) stimulates and focuses the left brain on the task of movement, freeing the right brain to explore the possibilities. The same has been said of watching tennis or listening to classical music; however, I would imagine that one could play a simple computer game on a cell phone, and be creatively daydreaming at the same time.

    Still, dreams are where the future begins.

  89. volivotti says:

    Great post…have been without my phone during the past few months of my travels (minus when I get wifi access at hotels – it stays at the hotels always) and it’s been rather freeing. We’ll see if I can remain less reliant when we return home and reality sets in.

  90. Reblogged this on writingwithintrees and commented:
    THIS was one of my favorite reads this week-
    “As much as I love, use and benefit from technology (and I certainly do), I think today’s constantly-innovating, tech-driven lifestyle is encroaching on our time and freedom to just be.”

    Just be. Oh my. I love that.

    May you find yourself bored sometime this weekend! May your ingenious side shine bright!

    “Next time you feel bored, try resisting the impulse to reach for your phone and, instead, let yourself be bored for one minute. You might suddenly find yourself exploring a more interesting device: you.”

    Much love,

  91. Jonathan Ulyatt says:

    I totally agree. The notion of the portable internet in my opinion is to cater for the on-the-go individual apparently without time to pause for breath. I have a post outlining my thoughts on the digital world we are living in and have similar views. Might be worth a read!

  92. obzervashunal says:

    Great post! I can go back a number of years ago to a retail job I had just begun. I remember looking up seeing a couple texting each other furiously while standing back-to-back … in the middle of the sales floor, completely oblivious to anyone. The strangeness, the novelty of it made me laugh, laughter which snapped the couple out of their synchronized texting trance.

    How times have changed, huh? Wonder what five years from now will be like?

  93. Reblogged this on Amber Spencer and commented:
    Thought this was a great post to start with…

  94. Relatable. I feel like I have to be entertained at all times. If I’m not entertained then I’m alone with my thoughts. Entertainment is always positive but thoughts aren’t.

    • fretgenie says:

      Glad you can relate to the post. I like your self-insight: that you avoid being alone with your thoughts because they can be negative. Negativity is part of reality. I would always choose reality over social connection and its requirements, which can put your soul at risk.

  95. liyacount says:

    Reblogged this on GoStepAway and commented:
    Love it!! And yep, let’s get bored sometimes. It’s not that bad right? :))

  96. Yuina says:

    Thank you so much for this new point of view…
    It is just true that our constant reaching for the phone and thus to web access or whatever takes away our chances to be creative.
    Yours was really a necessary post.

    • fretgenie says:

      Glad you liked the post :^) It’s funny…I am not a person who normally seeks out interaction with other people, yet I think it’s tragic how much we are losing while gazing at screen devices, especially in public situations where we have the opportunity to escape screens and look around us.

  97. Mr Seah says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Seah (dotcom!) and commented:
    I’ve got a draft in my computer that tries to say the same thing, but this blogger’s perspective does much of what I was/am trying to do with my own (draft, unpublished) post.

  98. lacindalynn says:

    Great and insightful post! Social networking is making us much less “social”, wouldn’t you say? πŸ™‚

  99. Awesome post…and funnily enough I read this because I was bored while waiting for a friend! I should definitley show this to my little brother as he grows up today in a highly technological environment and couldn’t survive 1 minute without the computer!

  100. lisawel says:

    Reblogged this on Lisa Wel and commented:
    Bored? Read this!

  101. darkmuze says:

    When I was younger I didn’t have what a lot of kids
    have today..I had the outside, explored, used my imagination
    to come up with things my sister and I could play, and as
    you said, just be. I also think that is what got me to reading,
    and eventually my love of writing poetry. Very profound
    blog post, gets the brain thinking, and something most of
    us can relate to.

    • fretgenie says:

      Glad you can relate to the post. Life was better then in certain ways, don’t you think? We are losing something important. Not that I don’t appreciate the global connection we are all enjoying today thanks to the miracle of technology. I just think it is up to us to create a balance. Technology is just going to keep coming and coming. We have to take charge of how it impacts our self-time.

  102. nidaashamim says:

    really nice post (y)

  103. Perhaps we should change the name of our species to “human doings” rather than “human beings”, as we never trult let ourselves “be” these days..

  104. Joe G. says:

    I might start doing this for a few minutes a day. Great thoughts.

  105. I think more than half of my life is filled with “boredom”, growing up as an only kid AND a loner. You just gotta make do, and be happy at it! Growing older I actually value my “alone time” more, and plan for weekends off and just doing nothing. That, or I’m just accustomed to the singular life πŸ™‚

  106. Great post! I too grew up with much older siblings in a very rural area and was forced to hang out by myself using mostly my imagination. I did sometimes have two neighborhood boys who walked with me in the fields behind our houses to climb trees and look for salamanders and crayfish under rocks in a nearby creek. But I was mostly by myself which made me be creative and tap into new thoughts. I read somewhere (I apologize, I can’t remember) that if a person avoids all technology for one week and immerses themselves in nature then they will be able to reset their own biorhythms to sleep much better. I believe when we go unplugged we get back to a healthier way of living. So thanks for advocating for boredom. Let’s all get bored together.

  107. Avraham BenEmanuel says:

    Reblogged this on Free words and commented:
    Introspection can only come when we are quiet with ourselves and not distracted. Technology at our fingertips doesn’t easily leave us that needed space for knowing ourselves.

  108. Reblogged this on On a mission to gain perspective and commented:
    Thinking we need regular camping trips or 1 day a week of no screens for the whole family- because I believe this.

  109. Pawel says:

    Awesome post. If I get bored now I`ll throw away my time-wasting phone and wait until I come up with an idea. πŸ˜€ Actually, phones or computers arent bad things, but spending too much time on them are surely a bad habbit.

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