The Tedium is the Message
It's never been easier to banish the feeling of boredom — at least for a moment. But some fear our weapons of mass distraction could lead to an epidemic of ennui and ADD. Contributor Peter Mitton examines boredom and discovers a little-understood universal state of mind. From its obvious downsides and unexpected upsides, to its evolutionary origins and the way it's shaping our future — boredom is anything but dull. **This episode was originally broadcast November 22, 2016.
No one escapes boredom. Though for such a universal emotion, science is only beginning to pay attention to what's really happening inside us when we are bored, and what it means.
Boredom is really about that connection between me and the world. But when we're bored we're disengaged. That connection between us and the world breaks down. – John Eastwood
As a society, we have zero tolerance for the emotion. Possibly to our own detriment.
We are spending too much time trying to get rid of boredom, swiping and scrolling every moment of the boredom or tedium that their can possibly be, and yet, in doing so we're actually becoming more bored as a nation. –Sandi Mann
There are different ideas about just where our war on boredom may be leading us, who and what the casualties may be. Also up for debate, is whether adding little, or even a lot more boredom to our mental diet could be just the thing for our addled age.
Guests in this episode: (in order of appearance):
- Lars Svendsen is a professor of philosophy at the University of Bergen in Norway. He's the author of A Philosophy of Boredom
- Kate Greene is a San Francisco writer, who spent four months on a simulated mission to Mars. Read her essay: Planet Boredom: what four months on mars taught me about boredom.
- Sandi Mann is a senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, and author of The Upside of Downtime, Why Boredom is Good.
- John Eastwood is an associate professor of clinical psychology at York University where he heads up the Boredom Lab.
- Jennifer Hunter is a PhD student at York University.
- Peter Toohey is a professor of classics at the University of Calgary, and author of Boredom: A Lively History.
- Paul Gray is Director of Platform Services at Kik Interactive
**This episode was produced by Nicola Luksic with support from CBC Radio's Doc Project