In respect to boredom | Financial Times

The last time I was real, hurt, hurt, in the way I remember from my childhood – watching the minutes tick by like hours; prefers incentives other than the abhorrent ones offered; intent on releasing anger physically, vocally, or both – nearly a year ago.

It was during an unfinished church held to celebrate the feast of the Assumption in a sleepy village in northern France. The service is conducted by a person who does not know how to please, not to mention the priest, and as far as I know the French church leaves something to be desired, every minutes longer than the first 30 and more became a mockery, abuse.

This is the long-term nature of new life. But once the trouble was over — and the recollection of the Catholic multitudes to which I had been drawn in my youth — held me in its habit, and I found that my pleasures were strengthened. How bright the river is in the morning sun! Life is beautiful and free and relaxing!

This is a form of non-boredom – the type that allows the mind to become used to constant stimulation when the stimuli are removed. Although it can be painful for a while, it is the kind of fatigue that can end up making room for thinking, thinking and a new sense of fun and motivation.

But that’s not the way most of us see it all the time. There is a different, more negative aspect to the tedium of our ever-changing lives. This is where you find yourself jumping from app to app on your phone, maybe with the TV in the background, while also putting something in your mouth – triggering can be found. . . one thing.

A study by Washington State University published at the end of 2019 found that, despite the shame of the digital distractions available today, boredom has increased among American youth for several years, and increased among teenage girls. This reflects the rise in youth depression and homicide recorded at the same time, and is largely attributed to the rise of social media.

The study did not examine the causes of fatigue, and its exact nature, but only asked the young people to rate how much they agreed with the statement “I am often tired” on a five-point scale. . But its lead author, Elizabeth Weybright, found a connection between the increasing rate of fatigue and depression and, more importantly, “inquisitiveness”.

This lack of “searching” evokes Tolstoy’s description of inner weariness Anna Karenina – “desires” – troubles Vronsky, who is not satisfied even though his burning desires are fulfilled.

French translation from Russian, boring, can further explain Vronsky’s point — indeed, our use of the word in English suggests that it captures something that is not “collected”. Patricia Meyer Spacks, historian, distinguished between the two mental states in his 1995 book, Boredom: The Story of a Mental State, as follows: “Ennui implies a judgment of the universe; Boredom, an immediate response.

A mind suffering from ennui is not one that longs for stimulation, or to be freed from its present troubles; His problem is that he doesn’t really want anything – he has complete independence and can’t find anything to satisfy him. This is not the kind of boredom a child often asks “Are we there yet?” on a long road trip – this kid knows exactly what he wants.

And this last type requires us to spend more time trying to create conditions for. James Danckert, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo and author of Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom, tell me the argument is caused by boredom in development. And of course, it is linked to violence and violence. But creating a place in the mind for the least possibility of boredom is important.

Only comforters get tired, goes the old aphorism. These days, it’s probably more accurate to say that boring people aren’t boring – at least not in the boring sense. By turning to digital devices as an escape from one of the greatest taboos of the modern age, uncomfortable feelings, we end up suffering from a deeper sense of malaise.

jemima.kelly@ft.com

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