Boredom: Nature's evil or Man's inability?


It has been through personal experience as well as the experience of friends, colleagues, distant colleagues, friends of friends, and many more, that I have arrived at this conclusion. Everybody gets bored of a particular thing eventually. It is only a matter of time, i.e. how long it takes.

Am I right in my premise, or is there a much broader picture to it. Is our brain hardwired to assume that, things done over an extended period of time, will be eventually boring? Is there, any task which we do on a daily basis, and are not bored of it?

Please shed some light.


I even get board of this place every so often. So yes, it’s inevitable.

Caveat: True passions will always re-ignight.

I think it’s more apt to say: Focusing on one thing continuously for an extended amount of time will eventually become boring.

Example: I’ve been watching TV my whole life and I’m not bored of it yet. However, 6hrs is about my breaking point (usually much less) after that, I need some time away. But watching TV will become fun again after a reasonable break.

It’s the same with songs. Heck, I love to sing along to Jimmy Buffets “Margaritaville”. I’ve probably heard that song hundreds of times. Yet, I have no interest in hearing it three or even two times in a row.

Maybe the brain is stimulated by a certain activity to the point where it is no longer able to sustain interest because there simply isn’t enough stimulus. Therefore it is no longer necessary to continue this activity.
In order for this activity to remain something of interest it must be modified, for example, the way rule changes are added to various sports to keep spectators interested.
I don’t think anything can be “boredom proof” but by continual variation can have more longevity.

I agree. I’ve heard the ‘everything is boring, eventually’ argument used in discussions of immortality - that it would eventually become intolerable, because you would have done everything and become bored of it.

But I’m not convinced by that - there are things that people can do again and again, and enjoy them each time - sometimes, the enjoyment increases to a plateau (as opposed to a decay curve) as the thing becomes more familiar.

Boredom isn’t really necessary anyway (especially as we do in fact have a limited lifespan). There’s never nothing to do.

I think boredom is relative, especially in terms of how connected you are to modern 21st Century society. Back before electricity, people would sit on the porch all day and do nothing, assuming they had no work to do. Then came radio, television, the Internet, iPods & Androids…you catch my drift. With today’s distractions, there’s rarely a free moment even during leisure time.

So if you’re waiting in line at the DMV and forgot your smartphone, you’re going to be a hell of a lot more bored than the 1820’s time traveler next to you.

I can think of one. Teenagers, in particular, often do it multiple times a day without getting bored… often using it as a relief of boredom.

I suspect boredom is a motivating factor for a large amount of human progress: both boredom with a particular chore or activity, which impels people to look for a better, faster, or more interesting way of accomplishing it, or just boredom in general, which impels people to get restless and start trying new things.

I think it’s not so much in our nature to get bored, than it is to seek novelty, and experience reward upon encountering it. Each new thing you encounter tests and refines your model of the world, thus those with an innate drive to seek out novelty, through becoming exposed to a greater variation of situations, are better adapted to a changing and unpredictable environment. Of course, now that we’re pretty much in control of our environment, we experience the downside of all that.

It wouldn’t have surprised me if Revelation would have added boredom as the 8th deadly sin. I also often think many people mistake their boredom for depression, especially our youth. Some sages have been saying it for over a millennium about “moderation” serving you well. I mix things up quite a bit to have a balance. Occasionally, I can still get bored, but not often. Not sure if it is nature or not.

It seems to depend on the individual, his personality, heredity, upbringing, etc. I’ve only been bored when forced to do something or be somewhere I don’t want to be, which includes people, company, that I don’t want to be in. Other than that, I’m boredom free, love to ride on buses and trains, whether above ground or under, and just take it all in; or, if in a more reflective mood, thinking about something that interests me, try to solve a problem or recall something pleasant.

In my case, imagination is or appears to be the key. It’s like I’m a mill and all is grist (as they used to say). I’ve empathized with but never truly understood people who, when, after planning, say, the big weekend, learn at the last minute that they cannot go where planned, or that it’s raining so hard there’s no point in traveling. They mope about, walk back and forth like caged animals; nothing, not even television, can provide them relief.

I’m not like that. When I’m in the same or similar position, I experience some pain and sadness, then find something else to do. But I’m a highly cerebral person, and my brain is my best friend. It seems to me that the more a person has “going on upstairs” the less likely he is to suffer from boredom. I think that advertizing and our consumer based culture is a (if not THE) major factor in the ennui so many people suffer from. They’re like Pavlov’s dogs: when the green “joy light” is lit, they’re happy as pigs in &^%$, but when there’s a red light they don’t know what to do with themselves. Sad.

It saddens me more that the worst part is that being hip or “with it” is so ingrained in so many people in advanced industrial societies such as ours, that it takes real daring, courage, to step of of line and really do Your Own Thing.