10.01.2006

addicted to boredom.

An essay that could have come straight from Crimethinc. canon, if such a thing wasn't a contradiction in terms:

The idea that people are addicted to boredom seems ridiculous, but let's consider it for a moment. Boredom is an unpleasant sensation that occurs when your mind is unoccupied. Supposedly, repetitive and predictable activities are boring, while novel and unpredictable events are exciting. Given this understanding of boredom, the way people act seems a little strange. Consider the phrase: "we are creatures of habit". We get up at the same time every day, go through the same rituals, go to work, do much the same thing at work as we did yesterday, come home and watch the same old television shows.

This behaviour doesn't sit well with the notion that people dislike boredom. One thing people genuinely dislike is sitting around doing absolutely nothing. This induces the unpleasant sensation that people think of as boredom. However, give them a mindless repetitive task to do, eg playing solitaire, watching television, or working on a checkout line, and they're content. Not necessarily happy, but not extremely uncomfortable either.


As I read those words, I shit you not, I had a game of spider solitaire in progress. Oops. I read on:

...The increased levels of dopamine enabled humanity to function efficiently as farmers, but this came at a cost. High levels of dopamine significantly impairs the minds ability to think creatively. Worse yet, the dopamine is highly addictive. Recent research shows that almost by definition, addictive drugs are ones that raise dopamine levels. This explains why people object so strongly to having their routine distrurbed. It triggers exactly the same resentment that you observe in junkies when they are denied their fix. The more ritual dependent people become, the more easily they become irritated by upsets to their routine. In extreme cases people actually become angry when presented with a novel idea. They ridicule the person presenting the idea, but provide no arguments saying what is wrong with it.


In the text, there's a whole theory about dopamine being more prevalent in farmers than in hunters, and I don't know if I buy that. From what I gather, there's a whole lot of waiting involved in hunting and fishing. A larger influence on the human mind would probably be nomadic versus sedentary lifestyles. A significant portion of the world's population is now fixed, and there's no reason to believe that this state of affairs is unwanted. 'Unnatural' it may be, but should we define the 'proper' existence of humanity by its earliest form?

That's my only criticism of the text. We shouldn't romanticise the past, nor let it define the possible. But here's something I want to explore soon: majority opinion, or 'common sense.'

2 Comments:

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous just bored said...

boredom is not routine. routine provides the general comfort and the overall sense of security that everyone needs. on top of that routine comes the specific activity that captivate the attention. if that activity is repetitive or dull, then this create boredom by loosing the focus on task at hand. simply the attention get easily distracted or having difficulty concentrating on the current activity. but not every repetitive activity is boring. some repetitive activity provide comfort too. Such as working on an assembly line. the work provide the income security and the person learn to manage their attention to keep their job.

 
At 12:45 AM, Anonymous always lazy said...

with the TV for example, your body is sitting comfortably without any movement, while your eyes and ears are bombarded with lights and sounds, for hours. nature seems to allows it, and it seems rewarding.

Can the opposite be true, while you focus on something constant, the rest is changing rapidly? for a little bit sure, but unless you are tired and in deep sleep, you won't naturally even want to stay focused very long.

 

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