Boredom(Essay)

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The culture of productivity, the ideology of capitalism and the mimetic desires of a man in the Anthropocene make boredom an unforgivable sin. Clocking the maximum hours and the hustle mindset of the workers with complete alienation of self (Karl Marx) is the path for proletariats with laptops.

The solitude and idle sitting have become vices and the conditioning of 9 to 5 makes one feel guilty if he/she dares to skip a second. The conscience and self-censorship (Micheal Foucault) will punish us for the sin of wasting time. An alarm goes off with a warning to get back on the track.

Infact, now, collectively as a species, we have become afraid of boredom, as exclaimed by Bertrand Russel in “The Conquest of Happiness”. Instead, the rat race, fueled by corporate lords pushes people into the hedonic treadmill of consumerism to get instant doses of dopamine.

Our busyness which often is forced distracts us from living and solving “Bigger problems of life”. Because only we are conscious of our existence and its drama, it naturally becomes our part-time job if not a full one to solve it. Erich Fromm wrote in “Man for Himself” that man is the only animal for whom his existence is a problem which he has to solve and from which he cannot escape. Only boredom and the process of it all give us a mediocre chance to solve a few existential questions in our life and at the least give us a defining philosophy to live according to his own terms.

That’s why Kierkegaard offers the virtue of “idleness” and Adam Phillips gives his notion of “Fertile Solitude” as necessary for life. It can spur creativity, and mindfulness and unlock profound questions. This is denied to people nowadays.

Walter Benjamin (Illuminations) calls out our allergy to boredom as a particularly perilous affliction of the Information Age. The consequence of it is best put by Bertrand Russell—

“A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation in whom every vital impulse slowly withers, as though they were cut flowers in a vase.” No wonder, Ralph Linton laments that all cultural advance derives from the human capacity for being bored.

Boredom offers a tiny space for reflection, and rejuvenation if one can embrace it. Without any pause, the constant stimulations will break us down and we won’t question the same old stuff we have been doing again and again without any reason simply for the sake of it. (Sisyphus Existence) Knowing this, Jews curse someone if they want to with the line—“May you never be bored.”

Boredom, then, needs a closer embrace and we have to put up with it and not treat it as a biblical sin. Boredom is a perfect prequel to new things in our life. It represents our desire to “create” and seek newness and weird things. Kierkegaard says—“The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings.” See, gods are no exception to boredom and humans have come out of it.

Hence, dear Sapiens, surrender to boredom.

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