The Value of Being Bored

In the Guardian, a defence of boredom.

It was Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote “Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain”. Although the musings of the German philosopher will certainly be lost on the millions of schoolchildren over the Easter holiday, their parents can find comfort in his words as they struggle to keep their kids entertained for a fortnight.

An academic has set out to prove that boredom – far from being a bad thing – is a naturally occurring emotion that should not be suppressed. Dr Richard Ralley, a psychology lecturer at Edge Hill College in Ormskirk, Lancashire, has embarked on a study of boredom.

He said: “Boredom can be a good thing. In psychology we think of emotions as being functional. Fear, anger and jealousy all serve a purpose but they’re painted in a bad light even though they exist for a reason. It’s the same with boredom, which also has a bad name.

“We get bored because we get fed up when we have nothing to do and feel the need to be productive. We feel bad when we’re not productive and that’s what boredom is associated with.”