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September 25, 2013

Boredom Among Atheists

Boredom
Boredom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Thinker (Atheism in the City) recently posted about how the Internet has eroded the experience of boredom. While I disagree with the author's statement that it is no longer possible to be bored, I acknowledge that my experience of boredom has changed quite a bit as a result of the Internet. I experience boredom today far less often than I did in my youth. I attribute this mostly to the fact that I have a long to-do list these days that I can never seem to get ahead of. There are so many things I have to do - whether I want to do them or not - that boredom is a luxury I rarely get to have. However, I do find that the ability to quickly find almost anything on the Internet has further reduced my boredom during those rare moments of down time when it could creep in.

A great example of how the Internet has reduced my experience of boredom involves how I interact with television. Before the Internet, boredom often led to channel surfing, an experience that almost always intensified the boredom. I rarely do this anymore. If I don't quickly find something I really want to watch on TV, I turn the TV off and get on the computer. I simply no longer have the patience to watch something I don't really want to watch.

Boredom With Online Atheism

As someone who writes a great deal about atheism and related topics, you might suspect that I rarely if ever get bored with this subject matter. You would be wrong to assume that. I do indeed bore of online atheism at times. To understand how this can be, consider for a moment the narrow range of content one finds on most atheist blogs and websites:
  • Criticizing religion
  • Describing the latest church-state violation
  • Lamenting the appalling lack of political organization among atheists that impedes meaningful activism in response to church-state violations or threats to atheist civil rights
  • Celebrating the courage of a few brave activists who make a difference by themselves
And that's about it. Is it any wonder "the great rift" has received so much attention? As dysfunctional as it is, it at least provides a temporary reprieve from the usual monotony! Could this even be part of what makes the drama so damned appealing to so many of us?

How many times can I write about what is wrong with faith or the horrors that continue to be committed in the name of religion without repeating myself? I'll never run out of material, but it gets tedious after awhile. How many posts about the importance of separation of church and state can I write without repeating myself? At what point do I give up pointing out how we atheists are our own worst enemy when it comes to our refusal to organize enough that we can put our numbers to use? And while I think it is great to promote the heroic activists doing good in their communities, I know they are going to do what they do regardless of which blogs celebrate them.

I know I am not unique here. I know some of you must tire of the standard fare you encounter on these blogs too. It is difficult to imagine anyone wouldn't after enough time. This is one of the reasons I write about other topics from time-to-time. I need the variety, and I suspect many of you do as well.

Coping With Boredom in the Internet Era

When I experience a moment of boredom these days, I do something different. If I've been doing nothing but reading about atheism, I look into something else. If I've been online too much, I get offline. If I've been immersing myself in college football, I get outside and do something away from the TV. As long as I am willing to do something different, the boredom quickly evaporates.

I think that some bloggers feel guilty about either writing about something different or just taking a break from writing altogether. This is unfortunate because readers tend to have little difficulty picking up on it when the blogger is bored. The content becomes stale and repetitive. These are the times we need a break to get our heads back in it.

How about you? Do you think it is possible to experience boredom in the Internet era, and if so, what do you do when boredom strikes?

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