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Smartphones Have Banished Boredom (and Why That's Bad)

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | about 2 years ago

Science 1

Hugh Pickens writes 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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These developments enrich our lives (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | about 2 years ago | (#41474049)

"Informational overload from all quarters means that there can often be very little time for personal thought, reflection, or even just 'zoning out,'"

And yet I am reading essays and articles from traditional intellectuals, from my peers, and from traditionally marginalized groups, and I am engaging in discussion and debate with all sorts of people on "high" and "low" topics, much of it the fruit of their personal thought and reflection and mine.

Really, I'm tired of the reflexive opposition to the democratization of intellectual culture that is facilitated by the ease of modern communication. There are many things wrong with the world in the present era, but this is a development that offers hope and joy.

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