Archives for November 7, 2011

What’s wrong with being bored?

Sunday I walked by a car, it was an older car, with two Disney dvd players attached to the back of the front seats with wires all akimbo. I supposed that they take a lot of long car trips and the parents don’t want the kids to get bored. And I wonder: what’s wrong with being bored?

Now, I really don’t want to single out these people, I just use their car as an example. I find this sentiment pervasive: it seems that we all have a pathological need to avoid being bored.  I am guilty of it myself, not only do I always carry my smartphone with me, in my purse I have a Moleskine notebook and my Kindle. In the time before Kindles and computer phones, I always had a book with me, in fact, I felt naked without one.

When I was a kid my brother and I were NEVER bored. We learned fast that there was always something to do.  If we complained to our parents that we were bored we were promptly assigned some chore: stacking wood, doing dishes, cleaning our room.  Bill and I were fast learners, that’s for sure. We learned how to amuse ourselves.

When we went on long car trips we slept, read books, and teased each other. I guess we could be “bored” then, no wood to stack on Interstate 95, after all. We talked to each other. Looked out the windows. Car DVD players seem almost too decadent.

We live in a different time now, gadgets are easier and cheaper to make, and our consumerist society is geared toward making us want these fantastic gizmos. But do kids need all these conveniences?

I guess what troubles me most is the idea that kids must be entertained every second. I am not a parent, so I don’t know how pervasive this idea is, but it seems to me that kids should be able to figure out how to cure their own boredom.

What do you think?