The Benefits of Being Bored

Daytime television has taken on a new important significance. Previously, I had thought that it was just a cheap form of keeping an audience softened up for advertisements. But after a new hypothesis, put forward by van Tilburg and Igou from U of Limerick (1), it is clearly playing a much more valuable role in society.

Boredom is a good thing for society as a whole and for you and me in particular.  Nasty, antisocial behavior, such as hostility or aggression, have long been but down to the participants being bored and seeking excitement. Perhaps someone will determine that those guys have an antisocial gene because the reaction to boredom is very different with other people.

When most of us feel bored, we apparently look for more meaningful activities. These may not be the most pleasant activities, but they are both meaningful and prosocial. The report points to activities such as donating blood and working for a charity as being a common cure for boredom. So the next time that we are feeling bored and miserable, we can take heart that it can just be the precursor to our rushing out to do some good works for our fellow citizens. 

Long boring harangues by our politicos, or at our religious gatherings, may be much more effective than I’d realized at producing good works from the audience. I can picture parents all over the country, after reading this new study, looking at their kids who are whining, “But I’m bored,” no longer saying, “Go read a book,” but saying “Go donate a pint of blood.” I just hope the kids won’t get bored too often, though.


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