Do readers of this weblog ever get bored? It seems that life is short, and there's so much to do and read. I understand that work can quite often be tedious and mind-numbing, but that's not quite what I'm talking about. What I'm referring to is having leisure or free time, and being bored because you don't know what to do with it.The post struck me as a reminder of how different the relationship with time is for those with an insatiable need for cognition compared to those who are intellectually incurious. For the former, it's in perpetually short supply. For the latter, time often cannot pass by quickly enough. In the words of Roman general and Hannibal nightmare Scipio Africanus:
I'm never less at leisure than when at leisure...I cannot recall the last time I've been in boredom. I always keep at least one book in the car and have my iPod in pocket at all times. Just getting to work on my backlog of books to read and podcasts to listen to guarantees I won't be twiddling my thumbs for months, and even if I did nothing else with my free time but these two things, I've reached a sort of singularity in which my to-do stack grows at a faster rate than my ability to shrink it down does. Yet I get texts and calls frequently enough from people I know asking what I'm doing at the moment, and if I want to go do something with them because they're bored sitting at home. I would never be the originator of such a text. Even if it's with a vivacious girl in her late teens, I can't imagine going somewhere without having already formulated a desirable plan about what I'm going to be doing.
I am quite confident in asserting that the same is true for the vast majority of readers, who are both intelligent and curious (the two are not synonymous, of course, but they are good proxies for one another). Most high IQ people always have something stimulating to engage in with their free time.
This isn't just me speaking from personal experience--the data confirm it. The GSS asked respondents in 1982 and again in 2004 how often they have time on their hands that they don't know what to do with. Using the familiar categorization method employed here before*, the following table shows the percentage of each group's members who reported to "almost never" be without something worthwhile to do in their free time:
So much to do, so little time to do it. Now when are we ever going to get around to reproducing?
GSS variables used: WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), BORED
* Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%).