Boredom

(An excerpt from my book Bonsai Coyote)

Catherine Shephard
English Per. 3        

Boredom and Arthur Miller

In the scope of human history, boredom is a relatively new phenomenon. Early man didn’t have much idle time, what with all the hunting, gathering, saber-toothed tigers, and a general lack of convenient transportation. While tedium and monotony have always been a part of the human struggle, real split-end gathering, toe-picking boredom didn’t rear its vaguely disinterested head until the industrial revolution when it began to be mass-marketed for profit. Suddenly average people found themselves trying to find something to do: something interesting, something meaningful, but nothing too hard. Maybe a movie? Nah, there’s just nothing good out right now. Modern humans had encountered the luxury of boredom.

Unfortunately it turns out that the lack of things to kill, gather, build and escape from is driving everybody mad.

The Puritans were fond of the saying; ‘Idle minds are the devil’s workshop.’ These were the same people who lived by the belief that ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ Interestingly the offspring of these Puritans proceeded to fuel one of the bloodiest episodes of mass hysteria in American History in the form of the Salem Witch Trials. And it all began with a handful of bored kids.

In his play, The Crucible, Arthur Miller reminds us that it would do well for society to pay attention to our muted, idle children. Especially when they’re bored.

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