gimme back microboredom!


Had these ads existed back in those days {the pixelated sepia days of yesteryears}, I would not have existed on this planet.
why? Simply because if microboredom were arrested 6 decades ago with people toting the likes of iPods, smart phones, tablets and a host of other electronic gadgets or diversions to flee boredom and seek for social connectivity on cyber communities, life today {extrapolated for the pixelated sepia days of yesteryears, that is} would be one of Artificial Intelligence or more probable, a drudge of over activity, information overload and numbness we can’t even begin to imagine!

And with that it could only mean one thing: neither of my parent would have met one another as they would be too busy establishing “connections” with pixels and having their lives “fulfilled” by pixels!

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is a term coined by Motorola a few too many years ago as a catch word that refers to the brief moments when we are without a device to distract us from inactivity.

A further drilled-down definition classifies microboredom as ‘moments that occurs in three- to six- minute intervals’, and these intervals is researched by other philosophers and psychologist {who obviously is mis-funded} to occur anywhere between 5 to 20 times a day.

On a superficial level, microboredom has effected our lives in the form of simplistic, snack-bite sized  games such as Solitaire, Tetris, Snake and Angry Birds on our mobile devices, or “interactive” leveling-up games with peers such as Farmville, to our incessant need to broadcast our mundane activities and feelings in Twitter and Facebook.

Not dismissing the overarching point of players like Motorola who took an interest in our personal boredom ‘space’, microboredom represented enterprises significant opportunity for advertising. These exploitation of our mindshare comes in the from of “micro-sodes” {2-minute long television episodes developed for small mobile devices of Prison Break to 24 Hours}, sponsored quizzes and games, to outright interesting advertisements and blasts.

Whilst I had read about microboredom and am guilty of being one of those exploitative people who had jumped on the bandwagon to develop communication for such mediums I had not thought much about it until recently during my trip to the Balkans where the obsession of finding and tapping on a free wifi was greater than the need of a wandering nomadic Bedouin in search for water.

But even that didn’t prompt me to pen anything down until tonight as I sit in my dimly lit hotel room … re-examining the focus group participation I had been invited for recently and the conference I am attending.  

It was a high level focus group discussion exploring the use of social media, effective communication medium and styles in the cross-generational workplace.

Discussions took on a slight over emphasis on the use/importance of social media and the need for workplaces {not just enterprises utilizing it for marketing and advertising} to embrace social media to reach out effectively to their Gen-Y employees. There were a few interesting thoughts and opinions, but nothing ground breaking in my opinion; partly due to the fact that this is rather a pas`se´ topic by now, but more importantly because I have been doing so for a few years now at the workplace {read HERE on the social network created by a few of us in the Bank as an example} – which is in the first place why I was invited into the group to talk about the experiences and effectiveness of them.

What ensued however surprised me.
It was a separate conference independent of the focus group activity.
A short discussion on the above started the day, followed by a conference slot given by their Regional Practice Head in Change and Communications to wrap up the sessions for the day. “marketed” as THE MUST ATTEND speaker/topic I regret to have missed it as I was in discussion with some of their other personnel on other pressing personal matters. The speaker did seem to have impressive credentials and real life implementation experience. Someone whom you’d want to listen to. But alas … some things are just not meant to be.
Nonetheless during the lunch break, I had the good fortune of trying out a ‘game’ they had created for sale on a demo iPad which suffice to say was akin to: Angry Birds Teaches Employees on Benefits.
Before I played it, I had thought it was a rather funky and clever business proposition when I was told about it. Judging by the session given on Medical Benefits and the way forward {I am so getting the titles wrong here, but too lazy to look it up for accuracy, you’d have to live with the gists of it}, I was convinced this was going to be mind boggling, brilliant… enough to get me to sign on the dotted line.

But as soon as I was at it … {yawn} I WAS BORED! 

 even an umbrella thrown in for those who made it past Level 2 didn’t inspire or motivate me to pass Level 1.
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I generally tend to think that anyone who says that “I get bored easily” or complaints that “I am bored” frequently feels a bit superior to the rest of us. Almost pious if you like. See, those statements generally gives me the impression that they have advance acumen and/or a fascinating, extremely important, therefore busy, life in general. It’s almost like achieving effortless ennui can only mean that they are savvy and cosmopolitan enough to have the “been there, done that” attitude.
But to flee short fleeting moments of boredom toting electronic gadgets today does seem a tat paradoxical doesn’t it? for these superior beings – no?

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A decade ago it was perfectly normal – a fact of life, in fact – to have time ticking away, as we stood in line or sat in gridlock bumper-to-bumper traffic or simply gaze idly into space waiting for something to happen.
This ’emptiness’ and stillness was never thought as boredom.
Contrary to popular belief today, we don’t get bored because we don’t have enough interesting things to do. We get bored because we cannot connect in a deep and meaningful way with something{one} and/or focus on anything at all. 
In our current over stimulated, hyper entertained and multi tasked world, often our minds simply can’t cope and ‘land’ on a thought or subject long enough to be engaged or arrive at any meaningful comprehension before being diverted by another stimuli. As a result of the onslaught of information and distraction received, we tend to be numb, consequently dismissing most stimuli that passes our sub conscious state of mind as “boring” and thereafter making the mistake of classifying our exhausted mind as bored.

The ‘stillness’ experience a decade ago is seriously not a bad deal.

It forces introspection and brings out life’s most quintessential human moments, but as modern philosopher Dallas Willard said:

“Silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of life.” 

Most of us would rather give up our kidneys than explore our inner voice or dig out the skeletons buried deep in our dark closets. We tend to refuse to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore and listen to the internal ones out of fear and insecurity.

We rather not believe that we are most human when we feel dull or bored. 
Discovering the new, sometimes profound things, be it an epiphany about a relationship or a new invention, is not our priority! 
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Granted, there’s expectation for one to emerge from a situation with an accomplishment and often people emerge from boredom feeling as if they had accomplished nothing.
But is accomplishment {at all times} really the point of living? 
Like it or not, to be able to be in a state of restlessness is one of life’s greatest luxuries; a sign of progress from the centuries of pursuing survival all the time.
Like it or not, boredom, nothingness, dullness is the essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy and even science … some might argue love.

As for me the long drive home after a tiring, challenging and frustrating day forces ruminations for me. Pang of homesickness in airport terminals puts the journey in perspective. My life choices begs to be revisited as I lay still into the late nights at strange cities and hotels.
Last but not least, there’s nothing more annoying in my books when straddled over a meal or on a road trip with a group of people fingering their smart phones and iPads; “conversing” and “connecting” with  others who are not even physically present! … a situation constantly present during my Balkan trip with friends; painfully reminding me of the breakdown of communication we experienced …

and admittedly I too was glad with every phone blip denoting incoming emails, short messages and the signaling of: whooohooooooo free wifi detected!

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Can you sit and do nothing for an hour or two without feeling guilty, bored or frustrated?

Can you be by yourself for a whole day and enjoy it?

 Do you feel restless or frustrated when a TV or car radio—or some other sort of noise—isn’t in the background?


6 thoughts on “gimme back microboredom!

  1. Pingback: Be Grateful. do GOOD | {the other 1/2 of} Haque

  2. I do agree that it is worrying to see communication breakdown amongst family members and friends. I've witness people meeting at an eating place many times and each are in tune with their own separate devices. Why bother meeting?Also find the messages that comes in annoying.Ben

  3. i don't think we dream in colour … very very few people do apparently.but i get your point.though it's nice to have real meaningful relationships and connectivity when we meet in person rather than everyone thumbing away on the same table in a restaurant.

  4. because of boredom, i read this tru my phone on the lrt : those who grew up watching b/w tv dream in monocolour, those after dream in colour. imagine the next gen will dream in super hd.

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