Why you should get interested in boredom
In an age of perpetual distraction have we forgotten how to be bored? Or are we, instead, more deeply and insidiously bored than before?
We struggle to take boredom seriously: it seems like such a spoilt, adolescent complaint. We are told repeatedly as children not to admit to boredom because it means we have no inner resources. I conclude now I have no/ inner resources, because I am heavy bored, wrote the US poet John Berryman in Dream Song 14. (He received more hate mail for this poem than any other).
But we make a mistake in dismissing or trivialising boredom. It is a devastatingly powerful force. Marriages end from boredom; addictions take hold in boredom; violence thrives on boredom. In some respects our tireless efforts to evade boredom have shaped the modern world. What powers Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if not the ever-replenishing fuel of our boredom? The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard called it “the root of all evil”.