Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Logging off: The beauty of boredom

Monday, March 7, 2022
Graphic by Jasmine Jones

I love waiting.

Waiting in line at Starbucks. Waiting for class to start. Waiting in the car to arrive at my destination. Iím not being sarcastic; I truly love these moments. They provide a space to breathe in my schedule. A space to simply be a person in the world.

In those liminal moments, I donít have to work on an assignment or send an email. There is Ė usually Ė nothing immediate happening. Instead, I wait. That is my sole task.

Yet, so often in these rare times of rest, I feel the need to reach for my phone. I feel the need to fill my time up with some form of entertainment, social media or video. A lot of people feel this need, too.

Before the start of a class, almost everyone is scrolling through their phones or checking something on their laptops. Itís very rare to see someone reading a book. Itís even rarer to see someone just sitting there, occupied by nothing.

There have been a few times when I donít feel like checking my phone, but I pull it out and pretend to scroll through my home screen as if itís Instagram (super weird, I know). But I do this because it feels wrong to sit there and stare into space.

With dozens of people scrolling on their phones around me, itís easier to conform.

Still, I wonder what weíre missing out by not allowing ourselves to be bored. Before the time of cell phones, people occupied themselves more with magazines, newspapers or books while waiting. Maybe they talked to strangers more at bus stops. Maybe they just sat with their thoughts. To me, that sounds wonderful.

Lately, Iíve been craving boredom. Real, complete boredom. The type of boredom only experienced as a child in the summertime. Yet every time I find those rare moments, I fill them up with some throw-away form of entertainment, because I donít want to be bored. Boredom is bad.

Just the word, ďboredomĒ has a negative connotation to it, and is almost always used as a complaint. Seriously, how many times have you heard someone complain about being bored?

However, studies and research on boredom show that its overall impact on us is positive. Boredom can boost creative and problem solving skills, encourage new goal-setting and improve mental health.

Boredom can also help spark ideas. This means next time I need an idea for this column, Iím going to start sorting beans like Time Magazine tells me and wait for genius to strike.

Or I might just wait in line at Starbucks, and I know Iíll get the urge to pull out my tiny black box, but instead Iíll stand. Iíll wait for my coffee and nothing else. I might be bored. Thatís okay. I think I could use a little more boredom in my life.

Side note: if you didnít know, this weekís column was an extra special collab with fellow Arrow columnist, Lizzy Stock. Listen to our podcast where we discussed the positive and negative effects of constant stimulation in our lives. For more deep talk on technology, check out Lizzyís column.