The New Boredom

No, you don’t have to optimize it. Just live through it.

Photo: Grace Cary / Getty Images

Once upon a time, a million years ago, boredom was something we grudgingly admitted we might need a little more of in our overscheduled and overstimulated lives. At the beginning of the pandemic, we got, well, a lot more. Some of us tried to make the most of it: We heard that boredom would actually help us to be more creative, more productive.

Are we ready yet to say that boredom just… isn’t that great? There’s something uniquely uninspiring about pandemic boredom, and this piece by Shayla Love in Vice unpacks why that is: Boredom is, by definition, a lack — “a signal that what you’re currently doing isn’t meaningful to you and doesn’t grasp your attention,” Love writes.

What we actually want is maybe not boredom. What we actually want, I suspect, is greater comfort with ourselves and our minds, so that a bit (okay, a lot) of unscheduled free time doesn’t drive us bonkers. Let’s remember that when we start to feel somehow both antsy and dull, it’s a reminder to pay attention and find meaning—in our surroundings, our days, our own thoughts.

Philosopher Eric Weiner suggests getting better at paying attention to the people in our lives by asking the question “What are you going through?” (Hint: you can ask yourself that question too.) Find out more here:

And when it comes to finding meaning, Nora McInerny writes: “If you want to make sure you’re doing something meaningful with your life, just know that you already are.” Read more here:

Senior Editor, Forge @ Medium // Bylines: New York Times, Oprah, Slate // Latest novel: Unseen City https://redhenpress.org/products/unseen-city-by-amy-shearn

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