Apathy, Boredom, Human Nature

How Can We Be Bored?

(About a 3 minute read)

“There are no boring speakers.  Only bored audiences.”  — Speaker’s name forgotten, but an English lord, circa 1890s.

Earlier today, Jane graciously answered about 100 questions I asked of her in order to leave an “About You” post on this blog, which you can find here.  Such congenial perseverance through so many questions just to do me a favor naturally impresses me as the work of some damn serious drugs she’s got to be on.

Beyond that, Jane left a delightful and interesting portrait of herself — but then wrapped it up by saying,  “…I’ve talked too much about myself…”.

Of course, that’s perfectly true, but only in the sense that I use the information gathered from your About You posts to blackmail you, for I am a staunch advocate of the noble principle that “bloggers should support each other”.  Hence, almost any information you leave at all is “too much”.

Still, I believe the juxtaposition of Jane’s interesting About You post with her “I’ve talked

too much”, provokes a few thoughts.  Chiefly, it makes me wonder what, exactly, is the difference between an interesting statement about ourselves and a boring statement about ourselves.

Of course, one way to answer that is to list all the things a statement can be that would make it an interesting statement.  For instance, it might be unusual, suggest adventure, or be humorous.  But there’s a glitch with that approach.

Here’s the glitch:  Any given statement about yourself is likely to be thought interesting by some folks and boring by others.  So we cannot actually say that a statement is interesting because of what it contains — because of itself.

No, I think we must conclude that what makes something we say about ourselves interesting or boring is not really what we say, but what our audience thinks is interesting or boring.  Otherwise what interested one person would interest all people, and what bored one person would bore all people.

That seems to me the bottom line.  However, I will be the first to admit it’s a bit more complex than that in practice.

For instance, repeat the same thing sixteen times to the same audience on different occasions, and most folks will soon enough be bored to tears to hear of it.  “No, no, Auntie Grace!  I would love to hear how you and your kitten, Furkles, met, but I absolutely insist I muck out your septic tank this very minute!  He who hesitates is lost, you know.”

Obviously, the iron law that the audience is ultimately the cause of boredom has more than a few qualifications — especially, that one must be careful to place an emphasis on “ultimately”.

Questions? Comments?  Abrupt and sudden declarations of faithless love for the author?  Personal professions of adoring cakes and cookies way too much? Impassioned rants about the urgent necessity to standardize the boiling times of different brands of macaroni?

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