Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

August 17, 2010 -

In this increasingly connected electronic world, boys are increasingly turning to media that provides sensory entertainment, which, in turn, acts as an immediate and gratifying substitute for happiness, according to an article penned by a clinical psychologist.

In an article written for the New Atlantis, author Adam J. Cox argues that boredom provides an “availability of mental space” that “goes hand in hand with a civil mind.” Today’s kids, he writes, are enthralled for hours on end by electronica, such as games, phones and computers, leading to:

The adolescent mind is nowadays so hyper-stimulated that the absence of stimulation — boredom — is unsettling, while the chaos of constant connection is soothingly familiar. A languishing teenager feels irritable and instinctively knows how to rev up: go online, turn on the TV, call someone, text.

 

Continuous stimulation and communication comprise the new normal.

This new found commitment to media means that today’s youngsters are bored after “thirty seconds of nothing to do,” where as fifty years ago or so, such an onset might only have appeared after a couple hours of inactivity.

Cox continued:

While boredom is hardly something to strive for, its presence confirms the existence of brief gaps in the continuous stimulation that dominates the thinking cycle of many kids. These pauses enable thought and reason to infuse action; they are boredom’s natural habitat, and the genesis of civil behavior.

 

It is only during moments of relative calm that young minds learn to bind empathy to action, and the development of thoughtful behaviors we associate with civility.

To be fair, Cox doesn’t pin the blame firmly on electronics; he also assigns some blame to a perceived notion among boys that acting civil somehow equals being subordinate, the enemy of young males everywhere. He wrote, “Civility feels like submission or servitude to these boys and as such is inconsistent with their idealized selves.”

Having fun, or the new incarnation of fun (being constantly connected), is the mortal enemy of civility writes Cox:

Being civil is rarely fun — it requires patience, forethought, and some willingness to tolerate tedium. While happiness and contentment are civility’s ally, fun, as defined by the relentless quest for pleasure, is tragically its foe.

Cox states that we should “cling to the pauses in cognition that boredom signals as we might cling to a life raft,” before “... the prospect of civility drowns in a wave of electronic thrills, and there’s no air left to think.”


Via George F Will


Comments

Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

If Boredom breeds abscense of civility, how do you explain a lot of mainland China. They spent years trying, in vain, to get their population to do basic stuff like not cut in line, stop spiting on the streets, and not yelling at people for the Olympics. The Shanghai Expo was another grand display of a lack of civility. One officer was pratically gang raped by people because he was handing out tickets to the China pavilion. People were leaping over barriers, punching out reporters, walking the wrong way up packed escalators, touching things despite repeated requests not to, etc etc. And these arent the young people either. The elder people really lack civility.

Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

Hax says somethign modern is the cause of unrest,news at 11.


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Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

The more time I spend on the Internet the more bored I get... so I think this person is just wrong. Of course clinical pyschology is the least scienc-y of the scienes.

Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

If he's complaining about civility on the internet, that's due to anonymity. You're less restrained when you don't risk a punch i nthe face.

Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

I usually think that boredom causes crime and other stuff...

 

You know, usually when someone is involved with gang or that stuff, people say that this is lack of work and proper entertainment...

 

And I agree, in fact we can see on the news, that paramilitary organizations are really happy to ban entertainment in a way to cause boredom, and make people WANT to do something else instead (ie: shoot stuff, alive or not)

 

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Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

Blink.... blink.... huh?

I am not following the author's reasoning... ok, I can see the first part where people are less bored because they have easy access to mental stimulation... but I am completely lost at how he associates bordom with civil behavior.

And then later he touches on what is generally considered one of the real detriments to civil behavior, it is seen as submissive behavior (or more specificly, males in dominate possitions are less required to behave in a civil manner)...

Re: Lack of Boredom Breeds Absence of Civility?

Really?  Two hours?  My father was a youth fifty years ago, and I assure you it didn't take him and his gang of louts thirty seconds to decide to head to the park and rouse some rabble.  (Ah, but that's "constructive" socializing, whereas all this modern blippity-bloop stuff is clearly built for the reduction of intellect.)

I also like how Mr. Cox initially shies away from giving "rebellion" as a reason for the lack of civility in adolescents, but later states that "civility feels like submission or servitude".  So maybe they're rebelling against that, as boys and men are wont to do?  It's not quite full-blown hypocricy, but he's not really making his case to me by shifting his explanations around like this.

After that, it's the usual laundry list of complaints by the older generation against their younger counterparts: people are supposedly naturally kind and it's just the "bad influences" which disrupt that, we have to teach boys to be good lest they grow up to be criminals and drug addicts, and kids these days should respect their elders.  Well, shucks, ain't it a dang shame we ain't livin' in the fifties no more.  Back then you coulda given those kids a couple o' switchings to set 'em straight!

Mostly, I'm just annoyed that Mr. Cox missed the mark with his reference to No Country For Old Men.  Yes, the sheriff does express his despair in society regarding good manners... but at the end of the movie (haven't read the book) two boys, appearing to be between the ages of eleven and fourteen, express courtesy towards the mystery hitman: "are you okay, sir?"  Then one of them offers his shirt to wrap up the broken arm -- I forget if that's before or after the hitman offers him money, but still.  The scene expresses the exact opposite of what this article bemoans: in a world where adults are getting progressively ruder by the day, some kids are still upstanding citizens, and there's hope for the future.  I think that's a far more positive message, one which Mr. Cox could stand to meditate upon, what with his copious amounts of free time between moments of heightened stimulation.

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Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MechaTama31So, between pulling a game from one chain of stores, and forcing editorial changes to a media source, only one of them strikes you as being on the edge of censorship, and it's the game one?07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Andrew EisenHave gamers ever tried to ban a product? Can you be more specific? I'm not clear what you're getting at.07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Mattsworknamethey should have expected some kind of blow back. But I didn't participate in that specific action07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MattsworknameAndrew Youd have to ask others about that, I actualyl didn't have much beef with them till last year, so I can't speak to there history. I simply feel that gamesutra chose politics over gaming and chose to make enimies of it's prime audiance. For that,07/28/2015 - 8:40pm
Andrew EisenI'm still not clear on how Gamasutra was lacking in accountability or what it was lacking in accountability for.07/28/2015 - 8:38pm
MattsworknameAndrew: You and I agree on most of that. I don't diagree that there should ahve been other actions taken. Now, I do want to point something out, casue Im not sure if it's happened. Have gamers ever tried to have a product banned?07/28/2015 - 8:37pm
Mattsworknameimproperly. Neither is good, but one is on the edge of censorship to me, while the other is demanding some level of accountability from public media provider. but thats just my view point07/28/2015 - 8:36pm
MattsworknameEZK: You can treat it as bullying or what not, As I've pointed out, I didn't like either practice, I made that clear. But I do hold some different between trying to pull a product from the shelves, and calling out a media outlet that you feel has acted07/28/2015 - 8:35pm
E. Zachary KnightMatt, So you feel confident enough to make the call that petitioning target to remove GTAV is "bullying and threatening" but not confident enough to make the call on Intel/Gamasutra. Finding it hard to take your gripes seriously.07/28/2015 - 8:27pm
Andrew EisenAs for gamers holding media sites accountable? If you mean, how to respond to opinion pieces you disagree with, yes, there are tons of more appropriate means.07/28/2015 - 8:27pm
Andrew EisenAgain, no one likes being lumped in with the bad apples. Gamers or feminists so lets all strive not to do that, yes? Could the petitioners gone about it a better way? Yes, it could have been more factual in its petition, for starters.07/28/2015 - 8:25pm
 

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