Saturday, February 20, 2016


Nothing's more boring than boredom.

Boredom isn't just a lack of interest; it's a vacuum actively sucking all interestingness from the landscape. Put me in a poorly-lit empty room with curious, alert people, and great things might arise. Put me in an expansive, comfortable room filled with fascinating objects and games along with bored people, and the experience will be dreadful.

Boredom stems from certainty. Bored people are certain nothing interesting might arise. Having scanned their surroundings like chess masters, mentally anticipating all outcomes, they've found them all 100% dreary, and shut down all receptivity to surprise, creating a vicious circle.

The perspective not only precedes the circumstance, it actually causes circumstance. Bored outlooks ensure boring experiences (it's one of the countless ways in which we ballast our happiness). So nothing great can happen around bored people. Their foregone conclusions block anything delightful from registering - and, certainly, from emerging. As imperiously dissatisfied consumers, it would never occur to bored people to be the element actively dispelling dreariness. They're too occupied with passively thwarting anyone else from doing so.

See also this. Plus this follow-up.

I generally only enjoy the company of people under 12 and over 90. People in between tend to be bored - and therefore boring. Their certainty is a buzzkill - the sole force in the universe opposing creativity (by blandly absorbing it). It's like kryptonite.


Display Name said...

Thanks for the awesome post Jim. Seems especially timely for here in the NE USA waiting for spring. I get to hang out with all ages because I play a game called magic the gathering. It has been described as a cross between poker and chess. This game has changed my life. I was puzzled about the mention of games in your example of a boring room. What games did you mean? Just curious. Did you get to Asher's candy yet?

Jim Leff said...

No games in mind. I was just painting two images - a grim, non-stimulating setting, and a happy, stimulating setting - and noting that bored people will perpetuate that mindset regardless of circumstances.

I'm not getting the Asher's reference. They're the guys who make the delicious chocolate-covered graham crackers, right?

Display Name said...

Right. The Asher's outlet store is right in my neck of the woods. You said before that you wanted to visit there sometime. I had to resist heading over there, I go past all of the time, and taking some pics to send you. We talked about the puerto rican steam table in Lansdale Pa too. Don't bother visiting there. Apparently there was a fire and they have yet to re-open. To loop back around to the games, my favorite magic card is called tinker, the flavor text is "I wonder what it's like to be bored?"

Jim Leff said...

Drag about the Puerto Rican place. Hope they rebuild.

I discovered that bed, bath, and beyond sells dark-choc-coated graham crackers in really small sanity packages, much better than the usual packaging of multi thousand calories. I think hitting the factory would be a step in the wrong direction!

I'll check out magic the gathering sometime, thanks for the tip.

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