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November 10, 2021
November 14, 2021

When was the last time you were truly bored?

In 2014 social psychologist Timothy Wilson asked participants to sit in a lab room and do nothing but think for 15 minutes.

The room was empty except for a device that emitted a mild but painful electric shock.

Despite all participants stating beforehand that they would pay to avoid such a shock, 67% of male participants and 25% of women gave themselves electric shocks – in some cases multiple times – simply because they were bored.

Spending even 15 minutes alone with their thoughts was unpleasant enough that they preferred something nasty to happen.

How do you think you’d fair in this experiment?

I think I’d be one of the 25%.

The last time I was truly bored was in August 1988 when I visited my grandparents and the only thing that happened was I was given a KitKat.

I’ve successfully avoided boredom ever since. And it seems I’m not alone.

But at what cost?

There’s a risk that in a fast-paced society where we’re constantly plugged in, we lack time for quality contemplation.

Boredom can be productive, which is why so many ideas are had in the shower. It’s the one place our brains get to roam free – we’re on autopilot, so it can do what it wants without us noticing.

It’s also why so many businesses were started in lockdown – it gave people unique space to think.

Boredom also helped many of our modern-day geniuses. Being bedridden with childhood illnesses contributed to the creativity of Mozart (smallpox) Frida Kahlo and Ian Dury (who both had polio).

How can we get more comfortable with our own, uninterrupted thoughts? How can we get back to making boredom exquisite rather than painful?

Generation Z might be the last cohort ever to know what boredom once felt like. How will today’s toddlers manufacture that same feeling, without having to go on a detox holiday a monastery or become a hermit like Ken?

Even in prison they have phones.

Next time bored, listen to your thoughts. Your ideas might just save us all.

Tell it to them straight

Younger clients refer more often than older ones according to Julie Littlechild of Absolute Engagement. This could be because they find it easier to ‘share’; the older generation might literally not know how to refer.

Simple hack

There’s a quick way to test batteries to see if they work. Hold the battery a few inches above the ground, and let go. If it’s fully charged, it won’t bounce. If it’s not, it’ll spring into the air.

Robo news

The Moscow Metro has become the first in the world to introduce a payment system based on facial recognition software. FacePay requires users to look into a camera to open the turnstile instead of having using a card.

Get a grip

Occupational therapists have warned many young children lack the strength and dexterity to write with a pen or pencil, and a study of 10-year-olds recorded a ‘significant’ decline in grip since 1998.

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