Why Boredom is More About You Than Your Surroundings

A pair of Canadian researchers have arrived at a new understanding of boredom by examining what the word means to different disciplines. Our age may be the most bored yet.

What's the Latest Development?

A pair of Canadian researchers have arrived at a new understanding of what it means to be bored by studying different definitions of the sensation. By looking at psychology, literature and existential philosophy (where ennui is a given psychological disposition), the team found that we tend to blame our surroundings for boring us. "We attribute [boredom] with problems in the environment rather than the problems with ourselves," explains co-researcher Mark Fenske, associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph and co-author of the book, "The Winner's Brain." 

What's the Big Idea?

While most people think of boredom as a temporary and ultimately insignificant nuisance, it can play a dangerous role in the lives of those with addictive personalities, who are more likely to relapse into bad habits when they are feeling bored. Ironically, boredom may be a condition more prevalent in our time of ubiquitous entertainment: "I speculate that people might experience a lot of boredom in modern times because we are experiencing intense entertainment," said one of the researchers. "We're used to being passively entertained and that constant stimulation puts us at risk for [more] boredom in the future."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Edward Snowden Divulges the 5 Easiest Ways to Protect Yourself Online

Edward Snowden lists services that will protect your privacy with just a few downloads.

Politics & Current Affairs

Keep reading Show less

Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants can last over a year, new study finds

We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.

Bottles of antidepressant pills named (L-R) Wellbutrin, Paxil, Fluoxetine and Lexapro are shown March 23, 2004 photographed in Miami, Florida.

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new review found that withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics can last for over a year.
  • Side effects from SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics last longer than benzodiazepines like Valium or Prozac.
  • The global antidepressant market is expected to reach $28.6 billion this year.
Keep reading Show less

Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…