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Why It's Bad That Smartphones Have Banished Boredom

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the bvut-I-want-it-now dept.

Handhelds 351

Hugh Pickens writes "Doug Gross writes that thanks to technology, there's been a recent sea change in how people today kill time. 'Those dog-eared magazines in your doctor's office are going unread. Your fellow customers in line at the deli counter are being ignored. And simply gazing around at one's surroundings? Forget about it.' With their games, music, videos, social media and texting, smartphones 'superstimulate,' a desire humans have to play when things get dull, says anthropologist Christopher Lynn and he believes that modern society may be making that desire even stronger. 'When you're habituated to constant stimulation, when you lack it, you sort of don't know what to do with yourself,' says Lynn. 'When we aren't used to having down time, it results in anxiety. 'Oh my god, I should be doing something.' And we reach for the smartphone. It's our omnipresent relief from that.' Researchers say this all makes sense. Fiddling with our phones, they say, addresses a basic human need to cure boredom by any means necessary. But they also fear that by filling almost every second of down time by peering at our phones we are missing out on the creative and potentially rewarding ways we've dealt with boredom in days past. 'Informational overload from all quarters means that there can often be very little time for personal thought, reflection, or even just 'zoning out,'" researchers write. 'With a mobile (phone) that is constantly switched on and a plethora of entertainments available to distract the naked eye, it is understandable that some people find it difficult to actually get bored in that particular fidgety, introspective kind of way.'"

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351 comments

Frosty Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476075)

I just pissed on your mom.

Re:Frosty Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476485)

I find it hard to believe you were the first tho.

Games (5, Funny)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#41476079)

I think they may have a point. Every time I go for a dump, I take my phone with me and have a quick dash around with Temple Run

Sometimes though, it's just a quick dash with the runs

Re:Games (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476111)

Thanks for sharing that important piece of information. At least your life is now shorter.

Re:Games (4, Funny)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#41476117)

Sometimes I wish the dash to the bathroom was...

Websurfing (2)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 2 years ago | (#41476339)

Or sometimes you provide TMI to /.

Re:Games (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41476347)

Every time I go for a dump, I take my phone with me...

Cell phones may encourage people to do a more thorough job of expelling their wastes. People will sit there until they clear the level, or get to the next save point, or finish the round before... um... getting started on the paperwork. To justify the time spent clearing the level on the cell phone, they will attempt to, shall we say, clear the level internally. Thus they wind up with a cleaner colon. This could lead to reduced instances of colon cancer and other diseases.

Of course, it leads to longer line-ups on the other side of the stall door.

Re:Games (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41476375)

> This could lead to reduced instances of colon cancer and
> other diseases.

Or just more hemorrhoids.

Re:Games (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476557)

Well, at least we can now snap a photo and see what's going on down there. Word of advice, though: ziplock bag.

It's Official! (0, Troll)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 2 years ago | (#41476093)

I can consistently pick out the Hugh Pickens submissions just by looking at the titles in the RSS feed.

And Hugh, please don't construe that as a *good* thing...

Me Too! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476105)

You mean the ones that aren't news but are very well written like someone is retired and always wanted to be a reporter with endless time on their hands? It's like the articles that are a sudden moment of perceived clarity or a list of something or situational humor turned into news. "And what's the deal with smartphones? Did you ever noticed how before we used to actually think about stuff and look around? What's up with that?"

Re:It's Official! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476167)

You're a douche. Hugh rules.

Re:It's Official! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476201)

You're a douche. Hugh rules.

[citation needed] His stories [slashdot.org] are pretty watered down ...

Steve Jobs Joins House of Wax
TV Game Show Contestants Sue Over Trick Computer Password Question
Romney Says No to 'Net Neutrality'
Has Apple Peaked?
What Causes Spaghetti Code? (Not the GOTO)
Not All Bad Code is Spaghetti Code
Statisticians Predict the Odds of Another 9/11 Event
Designers Criticize Apple's User Interface for OS X and iOS
etc ..

Re:It's Official! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476775)

Hugh is the new Roland.

Hopefully he dies too.

Compared to what? (5, Interesting)

AmeerCB (1222468) | about 2 years ago | (#41476103)

Why is reading a crappy magazine in the doctor's office more productive than using your smartphone? I hate when people spew opinions like this without showing at least ONE piece of data/evidence that using a smartphone is more harmful than the alternative (the other things we do when we're bored).

And didn't people make the same arguments about television? And then, later, about videogames?

Re:Compared to what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476123)

Because magazines are boring so you'll stop reading them and return to being bored which is a good motivator to do something productive.

Re:Compared to what? (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#41476349)

While waiting in the doctor's office?

But they also fear that by filling almost every second of down time by peering at our phones we are missing out on the creative and potentially rewarding ways we've dealt with boredom in days past.

I didn't know masturbation was a creative pursuit!

Actually, there is a valid point to the article, but I don't think it's anything to do with smartphones. It applies just as well to any device with a web browser and an internet connection.

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476651)

While waiting in the doctor's office?

If you have enough brain power and are bored enough then yes it's possible to be productive with your brain alone. If you don't know that then you're either never bored or lack the necessary brain power to be productive while seated with no pen and no smartphone.

The rest of your post seems directed at someone else.

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476781)

Eh.. The Internet is boring. Used to be fun when I was a kid but it's just trite now. There's only a handful of sites I even keep up with these days; a couple of news sites and few forum posts a day, plus necessities like email and online banking, of course. I probably spend less than 30 minutes online for entertainment purposes a day. Surfing /. right now just to fill the last part of my lunch and won't even check my post for replies.

Then again, why should anyone care? It was 5 minutes successfully wasted at least.

Re:Compared to what? (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41476129)

I don't recall a time when talking to other people in line was the thing to do. Most people either daydreamed or tuned out everyone else.

Re:Compared to what? (3, Interesting)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41476917)

I don't recall a time when talking to other people in line was the thing to do. Most people either daydreamed or tuned out everyone else.

I talk to people in queues and I am (a) English and (b) anti-social, so I'm sure if I can relax my stiff upper life then you can too.

Re:Compared to what? (0)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41476169)

Looking at a magazine is outside your little closed world that you carry in your pocket. That said, I rarely see a magazine on those racks that I want to browse. But sometimes I do and read something new to me.

Re:Compared to what? (5, Funny)

heathen_01 (1191043) | about 2 years ago | (#41476189)

Looking at a magazine is outside your little closed world that you carry in your pocket.

I use an android phone.

Re:Compared to what? (1)

anared (2599669) | about 2 years ago | (#41476797)

Which is almost closed.

Re:Compared to what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476941)

I think he meant it doesn't fit in his pocket. :P

Re:Compared to what? (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41476195)

I rarely see a magazine on those racks that I want to browse. But sometimes I do and read something new to me.

Try accessing this site from your "closed" device: http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org]

Re:Compared to what? (2)

AmeerCB (1222468) | about 2 years ago | (#41476723)

Looking at a magazine is outside your little closed world that you carry in your pocket. That said, I rarely see a magazine on those racks that I want to browse. But sometimes I do and read something new to me.

The internet is a "little closed world?"

Re:Compared to what? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41476993)

The internet is a "little closed world?"

For most people, yes. They log onto facebook (or 4chan) and exchange tenth hand jokes and pictures of kittens with a selction of people who they have probably never talked to in real life, and who think about everything in exactly the same way that they do themselves.

Re:Compared to what? (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | about 2 years ago | (#41477001)

It may be... Likely that people only use the sites they're familiar with, i.e. Facebook or whatever, they're unlikely to go looking for something new. Those magazines would likely be something that they wouldn't necessarily go looking for. Just my 2c...

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476731)

Closed little world? That device in my pocket has access to FAR more magazines than are available in any doctor's office. In a comparison between a dozen random magazines and a smartphone with a browser and 4G, I daresay that of the two, the doctor's office comes out as the closed little world.

Re:Compared to what? (3, Insightful)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41476271)

Agreed.
Reading a 3 year old copy of Cosmopolitan or some other women's magazine in a doctor's waiting rooms only fills me with contempt. Mostly with myself for reading it I guess. Lists of "50 ways to please your man" or "Know if your man is cheating" should be covered by some mental health warning. Please tell me women don't believe that shite. Inane twitter and facebook posts have more worth.

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476859)

What truly scares me about the magazines you'll find in waiting rooms is that despite being some of the most watered-down and "inoffensive" crap out there they are also often some of the most popular magazines on the market...

The choice of waiting room magazines was actually one of the reasons I decided on the dentist I've been currently going to for the last five years (obviously he's also a competent dentist but when choosing between several competent dentists I figured using factors such as magazines available in the waiting room was as good as anything). Sure, there are always a couple of those bland "women's magazines" and gossip rags in the pile but mostly it's actually somewhat interesting magazines. Took me by surprise the first time I went there, new copies of magazines that aren't about fashion or gossip aren't exactly common in waiting rooms (even a couple of the better pop science magazines which most dentists and doctors avoid for fear of upsetting the terminally religious).

Re:Compared to what? (5, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41476827)

Why is reading a crappy magazine in the doctor's office more productive than using your smartphone? I hate when people spew opinions like this without showing at least ONE piece of data/evidence that using a smartphone is more harmful than the alternative (the other things we do when we're bored). And didn't people make the same arguments about television? And then, later, about videogames?

The point is that occasionally being "bored" (in the sense of lacking external stimuli) is a good thing as it encourages introspection and, you know, thinking.

And BTW reading shitty magazines, watching shitty TV or playing shitty vidogames are all just as bad as wasting time playing Angry Birds, or posting facebook photos of your dog, on your phone. if you do them all the time and never give yourself time to think.

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476925)

Kids these days don't even know that biggest rock is best rock.

Things we do to avoid being bored (5, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41476155)

Slashdot leaps to mind...

Stop telling people what to do. (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#41476157)

I'll do what I want. I don't care what you used to do in the olden days. If you want to be bored, go for it.

It's like people whining about magazines closing. Apparently one is closing now, in the UK. Some people are signing a petition. Who are they going to present it to? I bet hardly any of them actually bought it.

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (4, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41476245)

Stop telling people what to do.

Who's telling you what to do?

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41476337)

The thing is, with so much less boredom, people dive to their iPhones all the time. There's no sitting around college in the dorm, staring at the ceiling with an 18 year old freshman, "Wanna go somewhere?" "Maybe... where?" "I dunno, it's boring here." "Yeah, but there's nothing to do on a Thursday night." "Bah..." ".... wanna have sex?"

No, it's more like, "Bah..." "...*starts playing Angry Birds*"

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 2 years ago | (#41476705)

Not it is scientific! Smartphones lead to the downfall of humanity.

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41477087)

The thing is, with so much less boredom, people dive to their iPhones all the time. There's no sitting around college in the dorm, staring at the ceiling with an 18 year old freshman, "Wanna go somewhere?" "Maybe... where?" "I dunno, it's boring here." "Yeah, but there's nothing to do on a Thursday night." "Bah..." ".... wanna have sex?"

No, it's more like, "Bah..." "...*starts playing Angry Birds*"

I think you need to expand your social circle a little. Any 18 year old who would rather play Angry Birds than have sex is not someone you should be hanging around with, as they are almost certainly deeply psychotic.

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (3, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#41476701)

I'll do what I want. I don't care what you used to do in the olden days. If you want to be bored, go for it.

It's like people whining about magazines closing. Apparently one is closing now, in the UK. Some people are signing a petition. Who are they going to present it to? I bet hardly any of them actually bought it.

Agreed. I bet there was the same argument about 50 years ago about broadcast TV. "Kids these days, instead of staring out the window (a pastime that served us well for centuries!) all they do is flip on the TV and bang, they aren't bored any more! Windows will go un-stared-out! The humanity!"

Look, there are always things to do and adults can always make decisions on what they want to do and when. If it's so horrible that people aren't bored, the ones who figure out that boredom is some sort of innate marketable skill will rise to the top and become our new overlords. Until then, it's business as usual.

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (4, Insightful)

fafaforza (248976) | about 2 years ago | (#41476935)

Well, by many accounts, we *do* have an obesity epidemic. Are you going to say that tv and in-house entertainment has nothing to do with that?

Re:Stop telling people what to do. (5, Insightful)

fafaforza (248976) | about 2 years ago | (#41476945)

No one is telling you what to do. They're just positing the idea that it's hurtful to you. But I guess you'd prefer that they do not study and contemplate things like this, and get back to playing games on their iPads.

I hated boredom... (5, Insightful)

malakai (136531) | about 2 years ago | (#41476159)

I can remember waiting awkwardly in line with other people with nothing more to do then stare at some advertisement or products around me. I, and certainly no one around me, wanted to start up a random stranger dialogue and shoot the shit. This alone caused me to be anxious. I hated waiting because I didn't know what to do, shuffle shuffle shuffle, hands in pockets, out of pockets, sigh, yawn... shuffle.

I welcome the soft glow of my phone. It makes DMV, Passport agency, and anything in a municipal building _just a bit better_. Likely a few years from now an anthropologist will do a study about how fewer people are going 'postal' while waiting in line for some bureaucracy. How after waiting in line a few hours, the ability to play angry birds kept them from thinking about how much money they were going to be docked when they got back to work. It just may save someone's life.

Also, lets not drone on about this 'habitual stimulation' always being entertainment. I see people on the subway who somehow manage to play games and watch videos, but I see just as many reading. Not to say reading can't be entertainment ( or that games and video can't be learning tools ). Just grouping everything people do with their smartphones into 'entertainment' is wrong.

tl;dr: anthropologist overreacts.

Re:I hated boredom... (0)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41476429)

> ...I didn't know what to do...

Did you ever try thinking?

Re:I hated boredom... (5, Insightful)

malakai (136531) | about 2 years ago | (#41476551)

> ...I didn't know what to do...
Did you ever try thinking?

It's my default gear. Some would argue I do it too much. But standing in line, waiting, the problem with 'thinking', unless it was just for entertainment in which case I'd call it 'day dreaming' was that thinking lead to questions, and the questions necessitated answers. Not having reference material around me, or other sources to query, I could never get an answer to whatever I was pondering.

Now, standing in line, when I think of something and I'm curious about it, I get to look at my phone and find ( most of the time ) an answer. I do this quite a lot. I wonder why the manhole covers I walked over on the way to the doctors office all said 'made in India'. I'd think about the cost of shipping them from India, about the conditions where they were made, about where the raw materials came from and how much of it does India have... and whether or not India meant The India or if it was some play on words...

Cue my smartphone, and the answer, and some article about it ( I wasn't the first to wonder ). This is better than just thinking. This is being able to run little experiments in your head and validate a result in seconds.

Just 'thinking' is so 80s....

Re:I hated boredom... (3, Insightful)

dcherryholmes (1322535) | about 2 years ago | (#41476833)

"was that thinking lead to questions, and the questions necessitated answers. Not having reference material around me, or other sources to query, I could never get an answer to whatever I was pondering."

I do not mean this in a snarky way, because I certainly while away time standing in lines with my own smartphone. This is just the thought your comment elicited in me... maybe you'd think of an answer yourself? It depends on the subject matter you're pondering of course. "Who's the Prime Minister of England?" isn't really what I'm talking about. But if it's a novel problem, maybe *not* having reference materials at hand would actually prod your brain in a direction nobody's thought of yet?

Re:I hated boredom... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476449)

tl;dr: anthropologist overreacts.

Not quite. Doug Gross is a writer for CNN.

It took me a bit of time to read through this. Basically it's a CNN article with a link to a somewhat interesting (but mostly unrelated) piece about social groups and smoking, and another to the front page of some web site (which I don't care to explore to find why it was linked). I'm still not entirely sure what point he's trying to make, but it seems to boil down to this:
"If you release a long-winded article with lots of vague terms and a scary-sounding headline, it generates page hits and I keep getting paid to write more just like it."

Re:I hated boredom... (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 2 years ago | (#41476771)

I started to read the newspaper; on my phone! Beforehand I never bothered to buy a newspaper or even get a magazine. Just getting it was to much effort. Now I have online subscriptions to newspapers and I read them on my phone. Now someone tell me that reading newspapers on the way to work is considered bad? At least now I don't punch my neighbor in the nose when opening a new page...

I have the solution. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476165)

It's called a Portable PC -- AKA Laptop / Notebook. Instead of fucking around with those damn consumtion centric smart phones and tablet devices I use a fully functional portable computer instead. I can make phone calls with it too (even better: Hands Free Video Chat), but typically I just use a cheap dumb "feature" phone for voice. If I can't compile my C programs on it, it's a worthless toy that I don't need. I've tried installing Debian on an Android Tablet, got a stand and portable bluetooth keyboard working... Then I realized how assinine it was to NOT be using a Laptop instead. Yeah it weighs a little bit more than a phone, and is slightly more cumbersome to cary than a purse, but I've got a messenger bag anyway and I'm not a fucking wimp.

Not that I don't have the constant urge to be doing something -- I do, that sense of urgency is due to my limited 70-100yr lifespan. What I do to "kill time" is actually creative. When the urge strikes I make something, or jot notes on how to realize the idea later. I'm just as habitually a creator as most smartphone "addicts" are media consumers. The difference between me and smart phone users is that I don't whip out my laptop while I'm supposed to be socializing at a restaurant -- Oh, that would be rude... Protip: I think it's just as rude when you smartphone users do that.

Re:I have the solution. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41476813)

You could just get a smartphone with a keyboard and not carry around a purse.

Re:I have the solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41477037)

I tried the smartphone + keyboard already -- It sucks comparatively, as I've mentioned. In any event I'm not giving up my bag -- I like being able to carry my feminine hygiene products with me, as many women do... It seems more productive to simply carry a bag big enough for my PC.

Can someone summarize that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476175)

tl;dr

Shower (5, Informative)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41476179)

I get a lot of my most useful ideas in the shower. So lets hope they don't make a waterproof phone or I will stop innovating all together.

Re:Shower (5, Insightful)

Hardhead_7 (987030) | about 2 years ago | (#41476249)

I don't even really see that as a joke. It's in those quiet moments that my brain will often present me with an idea seemingly out of thin air. Who hasn't been dealing with some particularly tricky problem, mulled it over, banged their head against the wall on it, and then while they're eating lunch or taking a shower - BOOM - your brain suddenly puts the right connections together and you have some new insight.

Smartphones seem to be stealing away all the quiet moments of our lives, and I've come to realize that those quiet moments are important. Not just for our peace of mind, but for our ability to really let our brains work well. Lunch has disappeared as a quiet time. The toilet has disappeared as a quiet time. I honestly think it's a problem.

I experimented with not doing any "compulsive consumption" on my phone a few months ago, and while this is purely anecdotal, I felt like it really did improve my concentration overall.

Re:Shower (1)

DoctorBonzo (2646833) | about 2 years ago | (#41476355)

Do you use your left hand or right for those "useful ideas"?

Re:Shower (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41477007)

There are places that will waterproof you phone.

I haven't noticed anyone doing a study about cellphone use replacing smoking as a thing to do when bored. Which is less harmful?

Go out for a walk (3, Insightful)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 2 years ago | (#41476183)

Just go out for a walk whenever you need to gather your thoughts and zone out for a bit. Touchscreens and walking don't mix...

This tip works great until you get to the point where you subscribe to a large enough number of podcasts that there's always a queue lined up for you in your podcast player. If you're like me you can still zone out or let your mind drift a bit during the boring parts of the podcasts. Also, obviously, if you go out for a walk without your headset you commit to not listening to podcasts or music.

Meditation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476185)

When I started my meditation practice I was a full blown smart-phone addict. One of the hardest earliest barriers to get over was the idea of sitting idle for 30 minutes. Somehow mindlessly browsing reddit was okay but just sitting and watching my breath was not. I'd get flooded with all kinds of thoughts about how I should be doing something productive and typically that was accompanied by anxiety.

At some point I had to stop and ask myself, who exactly do I think is judging my behavior? Why do I even feel like I need to justify what I'm doing with my personal time? Of course the realization came that it was all me, all my mind, and I let go of the habit.

Now I meditate regularly and still use my smart phone. I look forward to sitting and knowing I get time to just be. I'm comfortable with that and reap the benefits. I'm significantly less stressed during the day and my mind is calmer. I understand myself and my actions better. I still use the phone, but sometimes I don't. Sometimes it's nice to just be with your own mind.

I wouldn't say smartphones have only banished boredom though. They, like many of our modern baubles, have also lowered the bar for when boredom sets in.

An aside I feel is related I can't remember the last time I had a good meaningful conversation with a group of friends or even one on one. Hell, even meaningless conversation with depth seems to have left. It seems like on average things are being reduced to one or two sentences on a topic and topics which require multiple layers of thinking just don't come up.

I find it paradoxical as someone who was a loner in school I can look at my life now and see more friends, supportive family, great co-workers, technology like facebook, SMS, and smart phones to be always connected and yet I feel more alone than I ever have. I feel lacking in community.

Example - Kalman (4, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41476191)

A classic example is the Kalman Filter. Devised by Kalman while he was waiting in a train station. We may not have that innovation today if he'd had an iPhone.

Re:Example - Kalman (2)

dido (9125) | about 2 years ago | (#41476277)

We would not have the iPhone or any cellular telephony at all for that matter if the Kalman filter were not invented. The phase locked loop is a simple Kalman filter and it sees ubiquitous use in all sorts of radio circuitry.

Re:Example - Kalman (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41476451)

> The phase locked loop is a simple Kalman filter...

It's also much older than the Kalman filter.

Re:Example - Kalman (4, Interesting)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 2 years ago | (#41476493)

And Harold Stephen Black invented the feedback amplifier on a short ferry ride in New York.

The thing about inventions is that most inventions are made by multiple people around the same time and this happens because the ambient culture, knowledge and technology is available to them around the same time. The Kalman filter is based on a simple enough idea that it would almost certainly have been invented by someone else within years of Kalman's invention, if he hadn't made it then. The feedback amplifier is an even simpler idea.

There are people who don't play angry birds or produce triple digits numbers of tweets every day and there will always be people like them.

My personal favorite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476193)

Is while car pooling, the driver pulling out his smartphone and dicking around with it, eyes not on the road, barrelling along at 80 mph, in moose country, in the dark. Makes one appreciate not car pooling and just driving myself to work alone.

work time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476199)

Most of us have 8 hours everyday for "zoning out"...

Re:work time (1)

darkstar019 (2320432) | about 2 years ago | (#41476399)

mine is more like 10

Remember Bilbo Baggins! (5, Funny)

fluor2 (242824) | about 2 years ago | (#41476203)

Sometimes he felt the need to take it out and hide from the real world.
Always in his pocket, the temptation grew stronger and stronger.

Doing Vs Being (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476209)

"We are what we do" - it is ingrained in our culture that be must 'do' rather than 'be'. We have a total incapacity to enjoy peacefulness - to the point it makes us anxious. Why is it we need a constant distraction from not only the world around us, but from ourselves?

Bored people have more Sex... therefore..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476231)

I get it now. Bored people have more Sex... therefore..... This is an organized effort toward population control!!!
Neat trick. And here I thought it was merely a way to track every aspect of our lives in order to sell us more stuff.
My bad.

Read a book (1)

KritonK (949258) | about 2 years ago | (#41476233)

When you're feeling bored, don't grab your smartphone, go read a book. You can even upload books on your smartph... no, never mind.

Oh Is That What It Is (4, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41476239)

I know a number of people who must have a TV going, no matter how mindless whatever show is that's on. I'm sure they probably have infomercials going at 2 in the morning. I always assumed that if they didn't have constant inane chatter going, they might actually start thinking and realize their own mortality or the meaninglessness of their lives or something. If you get one of these people someplace that doesn't have a TV, they will just natter on. If you want to make them really uncomfortable, just grin and don't say anything when they wind down, and watch them start to fidget! Just about the time they open their mouth to say something else, ask them what they're so afraid of. That freaks them out!

Re:Oh Is That What It Is (1)

Hardhead_7 (987030) | about 2 years ago | (#41476289)

You sound fun at parties.

Re:Oh Is That What It Is (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41476427)

I usually latch on to the nearest person and show them pictures of my cat being cute on my smartphone for the next hour! My entire existence is one big piece of performance art!

Not just phones (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476265)

Phones are just the most immediate example. Computers, tablets, TV, video-game consoles... there are thousands of ways I can keep occupied. I never have an opportunity to be bored because I have so many alternatives.

I'm trying to write a novel. I find it EXCEEDINGLY difficult because when I'm staring at that blank screen trying to coalesce my thoughts into words, I am constantly reminded of all my other options. Maybe just a quick jump to Wiki for some "research" or, maybe I'll take a break on the XBox. Oooh, call of nature? Grab the iPad! And I never leave the house without my e-reader (actually, an iPod touch, but that's its primary purpose) in my pocket.

Smartphones just add to that chaos.

I finally concluded the only way I was going to get any work done was to leave it behind. So every day I walk two miles down the road to a nice park... and I write with a pen and pencil. It's worked so far.

TFS is boring, never mind TFA (1)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#41476287)

It's all TL;DR.

*goes back to playing angry birds*

Huh? No, I am not over stimulated! My attention span is just fine, thank you ver-

*angry angry birds*

The Shallows (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476319)

Makes a good point which, however, was better made by Nicolas Carr in "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains".

Demolition Man (1)

MatrixCubed (583402) | about 2 years ago | (#41476323)

Technology shapes social interaction. This brings to mind, the "sex scene" between Spartan and Huxley.

No Cell Phone: AMA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476325)

I'm a 26 year old graduate student, and I got rid of my cell phone in 2009. Never been happier, never looked back. AMA.

I'm never bored (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41476331)

I'm never bored. My imagination can keep me occupied for hours. I don't know if this is good or bad, it just is.

Your fate is in your own hands (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 2 years ago | (#41476351)

I don't get it when people lament about what technology has made them "lose." All one needs to do is change one's behavior, and instantly go back to the way things used to be. Or back to how they are now. Look! Options! More options than we had before!

I fail to see how anyone has lost anything of value. If, instead, the whiny writer is complaining that he can't put down the smart phone and smell the flowers, then his real problem is a lack of willpower.

Re:Your fate is in your own hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476593)

Yeah, author looks like a technophobe afraid of change. ON NO, PEOPLE ARE DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY!!! THE WORLD IS GOING TO SHIT!!!

I mean, I somewhat agree with the writer. I don't have a smart phone because my work and home has plenty of pc equipment. When I go out I'm typically with people, and I enjoy visiting with them, so there is really no reason for me to have a smartphone, and typically when i'm out i don't feel comfortable tuning my surroundings out...but then again I just love people watching, which is way more entertaining than some phone games.

But seriously, why are we getting mad that we have essentially an open channel to millions of people in our pockets, information and communications at our fingertips, as well as rich entertainment that we have the option to use or not? If anything, most of the great creations and apps we have were inspired by playing one ourselves. If anything I've felt that entertainment has pushed me to try to create my own stuff.

People make lots of snap judgments. I see several people on the phone not paying attention, I think the world is going to shit, I think this guy NEVER takes his head up from the phone, even though I only saw him using his phone for 5 minutes, our brains say, DAMNIT THAT GUY NEVER GETS OFF HIS PHONE!!! We don't follow people around 24x7, these public anecdotal evidence the world is going to shit because I'm 30+ and people younger than me do something different crap needs to stop.

Gasp! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#41476361)

"This invention is the ruination of society, and will corrupt our precious bodily fluids!" --- all people afraid of the future throughout history ever

crosswords (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476439)

Am i the only person that never fall into "Boredom" cause i ever had Crosswords on my jacket internal pocket ?

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476441)

As an introvert who loves just thinking at times (I'm sure there are a few on this site), before cell phones,I noticed people found ways to occupy themselves without reflective thought. I didn't because it's in my nature, I like looking around at things and thinking when I'm idle...it's natural to me really. I think it really is more of a predisposition thing than something cell phones are encouraging/causing. One of my friends who's a polar opposite said this: "Now with the internet, you can stay put and not be bored while before you always had to do something."...I don't need to do anything and I never really understood others' "boredom".

If that sounded like "hypothesizing", well it is. Note that TFA gives no studies but a damn survey, so his opinion is as good as my own, I guess. Another problem with TFA...Getting expert opinion is nice but a study verifying this "hypothesis" is actual science would be much better than opinions.

You're using is wrong (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41476539)

If your cell phone is a "distraction" all the time, you're using it wrong. Not that having a distraction from time to time is a bad thing. Still, my phone is a tool to get things done, which allows me to do more of what I want to do. Between work and my hobby/social activities, I probably have the equivalent of three pre-smart-phone full time jobs, and almost nothing gets lost or dropped or forgotten.

I still have "down time," it just gets interrupted less by all those nagging items I used to have to keep track of manually. My down time is of a higher quality now.

Secondary entertainment value (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41476569)

Each new advance in consumer gadgetry affords the hyperactive lemming a new channel for mindless amusement. The creative and the imaginative among us are thereby amused by the playful lemmings, in much the same vein as the Darwin awards. An ironic win/win, isn't it?

Not such a good replacement. (1)

terbo (307578) | about 2 years ago | (#41476585)

You stare at your Iphone.

I'll stare at the fire.

Thanks, though.

I will show this to my granddaughter (5, Interesting)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41476635)

Unfortunately, the 18-year-old is so preoccupied with responding to text messages on her phone and posting to Facebook on her iPad that she can't read this article, answer a simple question or have a normal conversation. I am not exaggerating. She comes to see me because I have internet service and Wi-Fi. She drives, but I'm not sure how. Every time I try to engage her to discuss something important, the phone beeps and she has to leave to see someone. She has a minimum wage job and the other day she announced she was getting an iPhone. Cell phone companies have done a great job convincing poor people that they need $100/mo cell phones when they can barely afford a place to live or pay for medical expenses. I fear her mind is gone.

Re:I will show this to my granddaughter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476801)

so preoccupied with responding to text messages on her phone and posting to Facebook on her iPad that she can't read this article, answer a simple question or have a normal conversation

There are human solutions today, though they are still controversial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGXSPf9b-xI

Re:I will show this to my granddaughter (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41477061)

I had seen this, but thanks for reminding me! This has to be the parents decision though.

The fear of ceasing to exist if not on the phone (3)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41476649)

I ride a lot on commuter trains, and I notice that most folks who are talking on the phone really aren't saying anything. But many seem to have a fear of not talking on the phone. As soon as they end one call, they call someone else, to talk about what they talked about on the last call. When they lose their connection, they break out in a sweaty panic.

It reminds me of little kids, who get afraid and cry when their parents leave to room. The kids have a feeling of being abandoned: that their parents will be gone forever. It's almost the same way with folks with phones now. If they are not talking on the phone, they lose their lifeline to this universe, and will cease to exist.

Re:The fear of ceasing to exist if not on the phon (2)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about 2 years ago | (#41476743)

It's not that they're afraid they'll 'cease to exist' but separation anxiety is a bit closer to the truth -- anxiety disorders have become epidemic in recent years for a number of reasons I won't get into here, and talking to someone familiar is a typical way of preventing panic attacks due to agoraphobia, or claustrophobia, both of which become a factor when you're locked on a train with strange people. The part of your brain prone to panic doesn't understand that the familiar person you're talking to isn't actually there with you, and so becomes relaxed. Once they're 'gone', and you're 'alone' again, all of the anxiety comes back.

Ah, smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476689)

Was there this much rampant pop psychology surrounding the emergence of television? It certainly seems like they've already surpassed the "video games and violence" studies in sheer number. Every time a new technology is adopted en mass, there's certainly an overabundance of pop psychology "studies" signalling plenty of FUD over it. I can remember at least some of these media-reported "studies" turning out to be undergrad class projects with samplings in the dozens, spanning all of a month.

It's My Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476693)

I own it completely and utterly. At any moment I will do as I please no matter what an anthropologist or moralist says. I work, I play, I have a wife and two friends with further benefits -- I like occupying my time. I also like watching football on TV, reading books, listening to music and sometimes just closing my eyes and taking a nap in a comfy chair with my cat nearby. My life is quite full and enjoyable right now and to be quite honest I don't give a damn what someone thinks about any aspect of it.

Bradbury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476711)

Funny.... I just finished reading Fahrenheit 451 with my 13 yr old this week.. I think he was on to something,

I, for one, welcome our smartphone overlords (1)

ritchman (2699761) | about 2 years ago | (#41476755)

Let's be honest: what was the basic action against boredom? TV!

I, for one, consider smartphones much more useful gap-fillers than television (or on the toilet: reading shampoo usage instructions :). On the television you only rarely watch meaningful programmes, and even if you do, selection is much more limited. (Fox news, hello.)

On the smartphone you read news, you read blogs, you watch youtube videos. It can, of course be "abused" for gaming, but you get bored with a certain game lot sooner than you'd think.

Dilbert blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476919)

Scott Adams addressed this last year in his blog. http://www.dilbert.com/blog/entry/creativity/

Still no good resource on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476955)

It amazes me that there is no decent website with up to date information on smartphones. I mean, aside from the typical advertisement sites. For example one which you can specify criteria to browse available devices. Say you only want to see smarthones running Windows Mobile that have a 1d barcode scanner and bluetooth etc.

What a retard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41477053)

I actually feel dumber after reading the summary.

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