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Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored.
February 13, 2013 8:02 AM   Subscribe

The Boredom Proneness Scale† is the best-known of the various metrics for quantifying one’s propensity to ennui. High-scorers who are ‘understretched, unmotivated and bored in the world of work in the 21st century’ may in danger of ‘boreout[PDF]. While boredom needn’t be perceived in an exclusively negative light (one might imagine a perfect boredom akin to the notion of dolce far niente), ‘boredom [PDF] and boredom proneness […] have been linked to a long list of negative outcomes in adults, including, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and loneliness […], impulsiveness […], elevated rates of alcohol dependence […], negative affect […], pathological gambling […] and higher rates of psychopathology in general.’ Historians of boredom have noted the relatively recent advent [NY TIMES] of the term, coinciding with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, but our more distant ancestors were not free of the related afflictions [PDF] of horror loci, tædium vitæ, acedia, mal du siècle, etc.

† ‘The statements in the test can be answered using a 7-point scale — from ‘1’ (highly disagree), to ‘4’ (neutral), to ‘7’ (highly agree). To find out your own proneness to boredom, add up the total of the scores you gave each question. The average score is 99, and the average range 81-117. If you scored above 117, you become bored easily, and if you scored below 81, your boredom threshold is very high.’
posted by misteraitch (40 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
How appropriate. I've just finished the biography of David Foster Wallace, and am preparing to read The Pale King. Seems this is his big kick towards the end of his life.
posted by C.A.S. at 8:04 AM on February 13, 2013


Meh. I'll take it later.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2013


Metafilter: quantifying one’s propensity to ennui.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 8:10 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The good ole days, when I was I was often in monotonous and tiresome situations.
posted by Joe Chip at 8:13 AM on February 13, 2013


How appropriate. I've just finished the biography of David Foster Wallace, and am preparing to read The Pale King. Seems this is his big kick towards the end of his life.
Yes, you should be prepared for an intimate experience with boredom as you read The Pale King.
posted by deathpanels at 8:14 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the "Boreout" PDF link:

1. Do you deal with your personal affairs while at work?
2. Do you feel understretched or bored?
3. Do you, from time to time, pretend to be working – when you actually have nothing to do?
4. Are you tired and jaded in the evening, although you have been under no stress at all?
5. Are you rather unhappy with your work?
6. Do you lack any sense that your work has real meaning?
7. Could you actually work faster than you do?
8. Would you rather do something else, but are reluctant to change, because you would earn too little in that job?
9. Do you send private e-mails to colleagues during work?
10. Does you work not interest you, or have only a little interest?


If you have answered ‘yes’ more than four times, then you are suffering from boreout or are on the way there.


...Holy shit. This was sort of horrifying for me to read.
posted by windbox at 8:14 AM on February 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


II en est un plus laid, plus méchant, plus immonde!
Quoiqu'il ne pousse ni grands gestes ni grands cris,
Il ferait volontiers de la terre un débris
Et dans un bâillement avalerait le monde;

C'est l'Ennui! L'oeil chargé d'un pleur involontaire,
II rêve d'échafauds en fumant son houka.
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
— Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!

-from "Au lecteur" by Charles Baudelaire.

[There is one more ugly, more wicked, more filthy!
Although he makes neither great gestures nor great cries,
He would willingly make of the earth a shambles
And, in a yawn, swallow the world;

He is Ennui! — His eye watery as though with tears,
He dreams of scaffolds as he smokes his hookah pipe.
You know him reader, that refined monster,
— Hypocritish reader, — my fellow, — my brother!

- trans. William Aggeler]
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:16 AM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


You beat me to it, Rustic Etruscan. Then again my comment would have been more like "Something something hypocrite lecteur."
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:19 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


My mom used to say, when I complained about boredom, "only boring people get bored."
Which never failed to infuriate me. But she was neither boring nor bored, herself, so she may have been on to something.
posted by $0up at 8:22 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


$oup, on that note:

"Hear the voices in my head
I swear to God it sounds like they're snoring
But if you're bored then you're boring
The agony and the irony, they're killing me, whoa!

I'm not sick, but I'm not well ... "
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I chose my career based on a deep, morbid fear of being bored for the rest of my life.

Worked for 20 years too.
posted by spitbull at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bored now.
posted by adipocere at 8:35 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you have answered ‘yes’ more than four times, then you are suffering from boreout or are on the way there.
...Holy shit. This was sort of horrifying for me to read.


You're definitely suffering from 'boreout' if you're substituting printer's ligatures in plain text.
posted by Nomyte at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


My mom used to say, when I complained about boredom, "only boring people get bored."

When I was a kid, my mom once said "an intelligent person is never bored."

I don't think she held an imaginary teacup and extended her pinkie while delivering this line, but that's how it came across.

Weeks later, Mom, Dad, and I were in the car, and Mom said she had a boring meeting at work.

I was ready.

It's not like I had been stewing, the words just popped out of my third- or fourth-grade mouth. It was as if I saw them, framed and stitched, hanging on the wall, red thread on a cream background. Received wisdom ready to be shared with another.

"Mmmmmmommmmm, youuuuu said ..."

My dad found this to be hilarious.

This is when I first discovered the heady combination of sarcasm, revenge, and exquisite timing. Hell of a drug.
posted by zippy at 8:46 AM on February 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


Young Ones: Vivian Bored
posted by jeribus at 8:48 AM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


ugh.

i'm a yes for 7 of those bore outs, maybe 9 if i was brutally honest. the only one that doesnt apply is not looking for a new job as i may earn less. i dont think i could earn less unless i was a student again.

man, i need a new job.
posted by moreteaplease at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2013


I live in a place where most of my friends are French, but speak English well. Most of them never use the word 'annoying' and always say 'boring' instead. I think this is because ennui means both things. They also use fresh instead of cold. So they are always saying stuff like "we put the beers in the frigo, but they aren't fresh yet. It's so boring!"
posted by snofoam at 8:55 AM on February 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


This whole thread is just so boring.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2013


Is it a bad sign that I couldnt finish the test?
posted by adventureloop at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it a bad sign that I couldnt finish the test?

oh thank god i thought i was the only one
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:07 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


ennui and boredom are very different. boredom is just the expression that something isn't interesting. ennui is the conviction that nothing could ever be interesting. ennui is a total experience, a world view.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:13 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


tboring;dr
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Finally, the test I was born to ace.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:21 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, scored 140 on the scale, 8-10 on the boreout questions.

And yet, I find "this is boring" or "you're boring me" to be the most eyeroll-inducing kind of insult.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:28 AM on February 13, 2013


This is timely for me, as I have been thinking a great deal about what truly motivates me at work, and it boils down to 1 key incentive: "am I learning something new". Being in a fun work environment and getting paid well will help stave off boredom for a few years, but without being challenged, the itch always comes back to seek something else.

Which probably goes a long way to explaining why I derive income from so many things: teaching, playing music (no surprise I largely do gigs that require lots of sight-reading), graphic and costume design, programming, art and crafting, game design, etc.

Fortunately, I have these varied talents and interests that allow me to stay intellectually engaged, even if I'm currently in a "boring" full-time job. In my free time (such as it is), I don't think I've said "I'm bored," since I was twelve.

I have friends who think I do all these things because I NEED money (which is not entirely untrue), but even if I got paid better at my full-time job, I'd still be pulling multiple side gigs. These gigs of mine have their own seasons and rotate throughout the year. It's akin to crop rotation, ensuring the soil of my psyche doesn't go barren.
posted by Wossname at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2013


When I woke up in the afternoon, I was really bored.
posted by klangklangston at 9:43 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once thought I had mono for an entire year.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ugh. The Wikipedia article on boreout made me grind my teeth. it's not that I don't have work to do, and it's certainly not lack of aptitude, or lack of official recognition (barf).

It's that I've been doing the same old crap for 10 years, I've completely distanced myself emotionally from my work (necessary to remain sane), and everything I do is to facilitate something important to someone else - not to me.

I used to derive some reward from the "helping people" parts of my job, but for the past few years that doesn't hold much pleasure either.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I once thought I had mono for an entire year.

Just so you know, this is possible. I had mono for about 8 months while in graduate school. I thought I wasn't handling stress well and just kept pushing myself. The school clinic tested me for strep throat over and over every time my infection became acute. This went on until my throat got so bad I couldn't swallow before they made the correct diagnosis. Steroids and the summer off on medical leave. Since then I never joke about mono and I also have a much more compassionate take on people with illnesses than I did before because that year was probably the worst in my entire life.

I know it is a boring story but I felt I had to tell it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:09 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The scoring on the first test makes no sense to me. It seems that answering "7" (highly agree) on questions like "I find it easy to entertain myself" should have the opposite weight as answering "7" on a question like "Unless I am doing something exciting, even dangerous, I feel half-dead and dull" in terms of your propensity toward boredom.
posted by drlith at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ahem.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:20 AM on February 13, 2013


The scoring on the first test makes no sense to me.

Oh, yeah, I had the same thought, but then I got bored...
posted by adamdschneider at 10:20 AM on February 13, 2013


Came in for the "Viv bored" clip; was not disappointed.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2013


Can't say I'm motivated enough to have done all the required reading but ...

I do recall reading once that there were two kinds of boredom: acute and chronic.

Acute is the kind one is aware of. It's like the fourteen year old kid in Geography class, sitting near the back, playing a game with the clock on the wall. He closes his eyes, counts sixty, opens them and sees how close he is to having accurately counted a minute.

Chronic is the boredom one has ceased to be aware of. It has, in effect, inhabited one's soul. It manifests as stupidity.

Here's to fourteen year olds of all ages counting off minutes in their heads. We Shall Overcome ...
posted by philip-random at 10:37 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was never bored as a child, because I always had my well-stocked chemistry set, and could dream up all kinds of explosions, flares, and rockets. Now I'm somewhat bored without those.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:37 AM on February 13, 2013


Holy crap! There are others like me?!?! Let's get together and do something fun and exciting and then get bored of it shortly afterwards! IRL anyone?
posted by JiffyQ at 12:03 PM on February 13, 2013


Chronic is the boredom one has ceased to be aware of. It has, in effect, inhabited one's soul. It manifests as stupidity.

no joke though, the idea of falling into this gives me night terrors
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:18 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"only boring people get bored."

"b'dum, b'dum"
posted by ovvl at 7:41 PM on February 13, 2013


The scoring's got to be wrong on the Boredom Proneness Scale. Both in that you'd not normally make a test that scored all in one direction, and that prompts such as "I am good at waiting patiently." are surely meant to be answered false by the easily bored.
posted by ambrosen at 11:42 AM on February 14, 2013


Yes - sorry about that - I lifted the ‘how to score’ quote from the first link in the post’s more inside section without thinking to check it properly. Is there anyone with access to Farmer & Sundberg’s paper (where the scale was originally proposed) who could share what it says about scoring the answers?
posted by misteraitch at 1:26 PM on February 14, 2013


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