Unanswered Question: Why did “boredom” have to become a ‘bad’ thing?

What an interesting morning in the ‘blogosphere’ I’ve had. It seems to have produced a treasure trove of thoughts and questions.

My Unanswered Question for today was inspired by one of those exchanges. A subject of great interest to me is the evolution of environments kids grow up in.

I’ve already examined the dynamic changes in the make-up and size of nuclear families. There’s still ‘meat’ on that bone to take up later.
But my unique vantage point afforded by providing childcare for 46 years, has given me a clearer view of the timeline of changes in the realm of ‘being a kid’ than most people would have had.

The most mind-blowing thing I discovered my granddaughter doing recently was observing her watching videos of other children playing. It didn’t seem to be a curious inquiry that might inspire a game that she could play. It was merely a form of entertainment.

Her response when asked (probably a little too judgmentally), “What the heck are you doing?!” was, “I’m just bored.”.

She predictably rolled her eyes at my ‘all too familiar’ response of “Read a book.” before I pulled out some paints and invited her to the table.

Then it hit me. How many of you had parents who answered the “I’m bored.” complaint with a chore or a request for us to “Go outside and play with your friends, then.”?

Kids just can’t go outside on an impulse anymore. And sadly, there aren’t a bunch of other kids nearby either.

We had something they don’t… The opportunity to explore and ‘boredom’ inspired some of our best adventures!

The changes to our children’s and grandchildren’s environment didn’t stop at ‘less safety’ and fewer friends. It came from an attitude adjustment inspired by those things. Exploration had been replaced by entertainment.

I hope those of you still reading this can imagine the tragedy in the last statement. One broadens the mind, and the other broadens the “behind”. One embraces curiosity and creativity, and the other discourages those things.

Too many ‘old folks’ tend to immortalize their childhoods as the BEST, but this ‘old person’ can’t imagine that this ‘kernel’ of change is a ‘good’ thing.

Knowing that kids are learning to require entertainment certainly explains a lot of our current troubles. It comes down to expecting ‘boredom’ to be a ‘bad’ thing AND suggests that a person’s environment has an obligation to offer ‘entertainment’ instead of it coming from within.

My head is banging the table as I consider today’s question.

WHY DID BOREDOM HAVE TO BECOME A ‘BAD’ THING?




18 thoughts on “Unanswered Question: Why did “boredom” have to become a ‘bad’ thing?

  1. Throughout your post, a particular song came to mind. This individual, Bo Burnham, is kind of this generations Weird Al, albeit less spoof of other material. He does mimic *styles* sometimes, but not individual songs. However, his one song, “Welcome to the Internet” kept popping into mind as I read this. I will attach the link here, but since I do not know how to embed it on your page to have the video, it may just a appear as a link. I apologize for inconvenience if it causes any.

      1. I love that song, it speaks to me one a deep level. I realize that some could find it… jarring, because it seeming comes out of nowhere and then just doesn’t let up for like two stanzas.

      2. Did you notice that the tempo of the song changed after the enticement to use the internet had turned into the “capture” of everyone’s attention? Chilling!

      3. Chilling is a perfect word. The tempo changed becoming more an more manic and erratic, increasingly insatiable.
        The lights that he was controlling in the room around him (with the little remote) also played this perfectly – boredom is bad, here’s lots and lots of lights. All goes dark and slow when he’s talking about how it used to be when it was calmer. Then it’s back to now and the lights explode and the tempo races. It’s brilliant.

    1. WOW! That was a perfectly terrifying song.
      “Apathy’s a tragedy and boredom’s a crime.”
      What a line! Thanks so much!
      I hope others follow your link remembering not to listen in the presence of kids.

      1. I am so glad you liked it! Your post just rang with “apathy’s a tragedy and boredom’s a crime,” which is why I kept thinking that song specifically.

        Your grandchild watching other children play outside rather than playing herself; I have seen that too many times to count. He says it beautifully: “It was always the plan / To put the world in your hand.” That’s precisely what it is. The world in your hand; while you sit and watch, the real world keeps passing you by.

      2. I see it with my nephew. My one sister forces my poor niece to be “engaged” all the time with her and her hubby, as a result, the kid freaks out around other people 90% of the time. My other sister just plops an ipad in my nephew’s lap and he’s generally more friendly but he can’t spend ten minutes without having to know where his ipad is withut having a complete breakdown. There has to be a middle ground, but neither will find it.

      3. My granddaughters are lucky. We are an outdoorsy family that spends a lot of time on our own 29 acres in the forest. Even at their home, they have chickens, and gardens, and have closely measured technology time. Their family life includes board game nights and softball games. We believe in ‘balance’.

      4. Oh, I understand balance. My sisters also have the unenviable situations that involve a 2 year old girl and 3 year old boy who are demanding and irrational. So, they placate with what is in their tool box at the time. They both have these wild dreams that in a few year time it will be different, but it can’t be different unless you make it different now. They tell me I just don’t know. OK, so I don’t know – you should still LISTEN to what I’m saying and instead of making reasons why you can’t do it, try to see if it makes sense to you.

  2. It takes some creativity to “un-bore” oneself. You are right; they should not count on someone else to do something interesting. My grandkids know my response to “I’m bored.” I tell them that is a sure sign of being a boring person. Oh, but that is so cruel!

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