Cure your boredom through passionate hobbies

If you are reading this, you are probably doing so amidst several classes, homework assignments, finals preparation or essay writing. Your life, like mine, might consist of endless mental and written lists of tasks and deadlines. In short, you are a busy, modern person.

However, this sense of busyness always accompanies a brutal sense of boredom. In literature, the word used is ennui. It was a powerful word contrived by the French literati in the middle of the 19th century.

These poets, authors and painters captured an era in which people were also busy and bored. Sure, everyone was always rushing about to jobs and social engagements, but despite this energy life seemed exhausting and unfulfilling. So bored were many of these people that they would spend their spare time simply sitting and watching other people.

We do this, too. It’s called the Facebook news feed, the endless stream of tweets or the mindless scrolling through this app or the other. Don’t tell me you aren’t bored doing so. I can see it on blank, lifeless expressions of so many of our peers.

One finds boredom in the best circumstances. We travel to exotic locations to be bored because we’ve seen these places in pictures and movies that always look better than the real thing. We spend months planning outings with friends only to find ourselves with those friends on our smart phones. We go home on holiday only to find ourselves in our old bedroom, bored, watching Netflix on the laptop.

In fact, some of us have gotten so bored that we spew hatred and bigotry in cyberspace. Others bully, make fun or harass. A few even take it a step further and physically violate.

I understand how good it feels to have a day filled with activities, but they seem to be doing nothing to build a good society. In fact, the way we currently live our bored, busy lives is unhealthy; so unhealthy that many of us have almost ceased to be thinking, autonomous humans and morphed into zombies.

Jessica Valenti of The Guardian described this business well: “You ask students how they’re doing and what they’re interested in, and they’ll rattle off more than a list of courses. They’re club presidents, playing sports, involved in activism or volunteering – all while planning a semester abroad, their sorority’s next mixer and bringing a speaker in, of course.”

Though many of these activities alleviate the boredom for many, for many others they simply fill the resume. They do not bring joy. They do not lift the ennui. Rather, they compound it, adding to the sense of rolling listlessly through life.

As Valenti said, we enumerate activities and majors. We define ourselves by what we study, not by what our goals and passions are in life. No one says ‘I am a budding doctor’ or ‘I am an economist.”

Instead, we introduce ourselves by intended degrees. Indeed, we describe ourselves by pieces of paper we hope to receive, frame and put on walls.

If we are bored, it is not because we lack for activities or material distractions. We are bored because we lack for passion, zest and the desire to find meaning and discover new and greater truths. We should define ourselves by who and what we love, not merely by what we do.

Our boredom is killing our society and us. It is forcing us into dangerous diversions, summed up in the classic triad of sex, drugs and violence. Our busyness keeps us from noticing.

If we are busy, let it be meaningfully so. If we are bored, let us not cure it merely by being busy.

In short, put down the planner, put down the phone and put down the laptop. Find passion, give love and cure the boredom.

Tyler Laferriere is a first year master’s student in applied economics and statistics from Phoenix, Ariz. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of the Office of Student Media.