Thinking About ... Three Types of Boredom ...

... another 22 Words inspired set of distinctions.

Abraham Piper raised the question, "Whose fault is it if you're bored?"

I think I would make the following distinction before answering the question.

You could think of 'boredom' as a simple an emotional state, an emotional state that could arise from any number of complex or interrelated causes. Like anger, boredom in this sense is not be blameworthy in and of itself.

There is another type of boredom, however, that is more deep seated. It's a way of being in the world. Call it 'ennui' if you like. This boredom is a fundamental disposition of the human person towards other people, the Cosmos, and maybe even the Creator. This second type of boredom is certainly blameworthy and, what's worse, potentially deadly to the soul. It is the opposite of openness to being. It is a corrosive evil.

Finally, a third type of boredom might arise simply from living passively in a technological, consumerist, info-tainment based culture. This 'boredom' is neither a blameless emotional state nor a corrosive disposition of the soul but a simple habit, a habit acquired through allowing your interest to be too often spoon fed you. As it becomes more pervasive, it amounts to a failure to rouse oneself from the slumber of being entertained by the World to the responsibility for creative, dynamic engagement in the created Cosmos. It's laziness at best, 'soul sleep' before death at worst.

It seems to me that I should keep this in mind not only for myself but also in my child rearing. What I do with my own boredom and how I handle my children's occasional announcement, "I'm bored," should be shaped by a discerning attitude towards the root and extent of that boredom. Because if these distinctions hold, it would be a grave mistake in every direction to treat all boredom alike.


Mainely Me said...

I like those distinctions. I've experienced all three . Those last two are bad stuff.

J.J. said...

This reminds me of an article I just read - very much worth your time!