It’s the school holidays and in library after library around the city the tug of war between harried adults and their bored offspring plays itself out.
Who is it that throws the switch on the cute kids who tumble into libraries with such joy, and turns them into bored youngsters – like overnight? Suddenly the only thing they want to do is Facebook and attempts to get them interested in any of the other wonderful Young Adult resources we have is greeted with disdain and the sing-song “Boring.” There is something passive aggressive about the bored, neatly summed up by Paul Tillich who said: “Boredom is rage spread thin.”
More disturbing yet is that being bored has somehow captured the higher ground and is considered to be intellectually superior and cool. Pity the poor young people who are still interested in things and, in some really nerdy cases – heaven forbid – are actually enthusiastic.
It’s got me thinking about this whole boredom thing and from this you can deduce that I’m so uncool that even boredom doesn’t bore me. In fact, the library is full of fascinating books on the topic. A good starting point might be Peter Toohey’s book Boredom – A Lively History or History without the Boring Bits by Ian Crofton and then there’s the intriguingly named My Boring-ass Life by Kevin Smith. My favourite book on this topic is How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson, but I am also tempted by the help on hand for bad-attitude pets in 150 Activities for Bored Dogs. And no, there were no books for bored cats – just as you would expect.
I’ve often said that I’m never bored. But, now that I delve into the topic, I wonder if it was boredom that I was was feeling from 8-9 on cold winter’s nights at the issues desk in the old Central Library: a feeling of restless lassitude which even the entertainment afforded by my colleagues (let’s call them Dean, Colin and Richard) could not hold at bay. Now that I can no longer work there, I’ll never know for sure.
I’ll leave you with two quotes on boredom – you’ll probably agree with one or the other:
- “Boredom is the highest mental state.” – Einstein
- “In order to live free and happily you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice.” – Richard Bach