Boredom and Technology

I really liked the article “The Myth of the Disconnected Life” and how it talked about using technology to foster deeper historical context and build community. It was an unexpected but pleasant take on the role of technology in our lives.

I think the thing that’s most striking to me about technology is how quickly everything changes. When I think about my own life… I first got a smart phone 2 years ago when I moved to Blacksburg, now I couldn’t imagine not having one. My family had dial up internet almost until the time I graduated high school. It was only a few years ago when the idea of a technology sabbath would have seemed like a totally foreign concept. The number of new technologies or programs I’ve learned how to use since starting my PhD couldn’t be counted on 2 hands. One of my fears about my PhD is that the technology in my field is evolving so quickly that the skills I have spent years learning during my time as a student won’t even be relevant in a few years. It’s hard to even fathom what a few more years of technological advancement will look like. Can technology (at least in the context of the kind of technology we use in our every day lives) continue to evolve as quickly as it has in our own lifetimes? Probably. But as long as that advancement is in the direction of more efficient progress, that sounds like a great thing.

I heard a podcast the other day called “Am I Boring you?” that talked about how researchers are trying to investigate what at first seems like a really obvious question: Why do we get bored? and do some people get bored more than others? but it turns out researchers don’t have a great grasp on why exactly people even get bored in the first place. One of the theories that sticks out in my memory of the podcast was the theory that we get bored because it offers an evolutionary advantage. An organism that can do the same thing over and over without learning anything new from it isn’t a desirable evolutionary trait. So boredom gives us a a drive to learn new things and to develop new skills. Boredom seems inextricably linked to our interactions with technology. When we are bored, we turn to our phones or our computers to entertain us. As long as boredom is driving us to use technology to learn new things and develop new skills, it is serving an important role in our lives.


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6 Responses to Boredom and Technology

  1. ytaylor9

    I think boredom is a very interesting topic. I can become bored with one topic today, but then tomorrow reinvestigate it and be completely immersed. Why is that? I think there is a lot of day-to-day variance that contributes to our ability to focus that we don’t understand at all. How is it that some people always seem to be happy and bouncing off the walls with excitement while others have a difficult time getting interested in anything? Are they intentionally acting this way, or are there other factors that we aren’t considering that affect us daily? I think it’s the latter. And in regards to being connected, I think you’re point with people becoming connected when they’re bored is accurate, which is essentially the same as in the past, but instead of going outside and making something with our hands we stay inside and start typing away. So, some people being able to disconnect easily and fulfill their boredom by not connecting is nice, but others may need to do something differently in order to cure their boredom, which may mean connecting, and I think both ways are fine.

  2. I found the theory you provided from a podcast, “…we get bored because it offers an evolutionary advantage”, intriguing. I can’t remember if it was recently or something that I heard multiple times, but I heard that we naturally favor being mentally occupied, thus when a person is bored they’ll turn to something that offers immediate mental stimulus. Logically it makes sense, but whether we all gain new skills from technological advances may not always be the case (e.g., repetitiously monitoring Facebook posts for several hours each day). However, there are times when new skills are acquired, such as learning to program in order to conduct long repeated calculations, or learning how to surf the internet for specific research related publications.

  3. Jacob Metch

    Couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of how quickly technology changes and how deflating it is that programs we learn now may be obsolete in just a few years. Ultimately this will lead to great things being accomplished by everyone since more and more powerful technology will be developed. The podcast’s ideas on boredom as an evolutionary trait is interesting as well. This also speaks to the other Atlantic article in that this evolutionary trait may be detrimental in the modern world with so much information to be distracted with.

  4. Bernardo Mesa

    Yeah, boredom, whatever the evolutionary force is or the mechanism by which we experience it, can be extremely useful or extremely detrimental. It all depends on how we use or skills to overcome boredom. In the past (and maybe now), a kid would go around killing birds because they were bored. Now, some kids could hack somebody’s email account just for fun. The way I see it is that we still have the similar generational problems (e.g., from the early 1900’s to the early 2000’s) but we are going different routs to express them, identify them, and overcome them.

  5. Zhilei

    Boredom is a positive factor to drive people to learn new things. However, with the development of new technologies, information overload also causes people to be boring for lots of noisy data, even some rumor news. Particularly, as a PhD student, we would like to concentrate on our specific research topic, we will be easily distracted by so much information that is irrelevant to our study. Therefore, I would say we should figure out where is the original source of the boredom. Otherwise, I can not concede that boredom can drive someone to learn new things.

  6. Hi mates, its enormous article regarding educationand completely defined, keep
    it up all the time.

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