Bored

I thought this review was useful for mentioning that the word “boring” and the usage of “interesting” as “not boring” seem to have entered the language only about 250 years ago.


The reviewer suggests that this was during the Industrial Revolution makes a about how people perceive work in an industrialized society. The reviewer also makes a connection between the idea of boredom and post-industrial division of time between work and leisure. The reviewer doesn’t say if these are his views, or came from the book. The reviewer may be approaching the question based on Marx’s idea that workers are alienated from their work if they don’t own the means of production.
I can’t believe that people weren’t bored before the word entered the lexicon, or that life was necessarily that exciting. I would consider the possibility that people were happier and more fulfilled, and didn’t expect a lot of novelty and thrills in their daily lives.
I would tend to look at this a question of changing values, with people, starting to expect something extra from the routines of life. It may reflect a kind of Romantic idea that free and natural persons are entitled to a diversity of new and interesting experiences. It may well reflect the material affluence of Industrial society which gives some people the time and money to enjoy interesting experiences.
Boredom is a judgment on the quality of a subjective experience. I remember the psychological idea of flow, and I can see the possibility of defining boring and interesting in terms of flow. Many people find their work or any work boring or at least not stimulating or fulfilling as leisure activities. Many also find that many leisure activities not as fulfilling as they hoped. Some activities present challenges which avoids boredom. Some activities inspire intense real feelings of stress, fear, and anger, or high levels of sensory and emotional stimulation. Bad movies overwhelm with special effects. Live NFL Football is slow and boring, but participation in the crowd experience can be stimulating. Other activities seem boring in themselves – depending on taste but we may tolerate something if other people pronounce it to be interesting, or seem to enjoy themselves. If people can find the right stimulation or feedback, they can find find an activity to be interesting.
A complaint of boredom reflects a low-grade anxiety or discontent from a person who doesn’t like what she is doing. I also contains an element of blame – blaming the quality of outside experiences for internal anxiety. A person who finds his or her life to be too boring is expressing as sense of feeling entitled to better-quality, more stimulating or entertaining experiences than their circumstances seem to provide. This person may be unwilling or unable to accept responsibility for his own feelings and for making the best of his circumstances.

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