If You’re Bored Then You’re Boring

In the past I’ve railed against such favorite internet words and phrases as “too much free time” and “Zen/Random“. Now it’s time for a new one. Today the target of the Two Minute Hate is:

bored

used in this context:

“I was bored so I made this.”

I see this a lot on Flickr or YouTube or blog entries talking about some creative project such as a short video, a drawing, some bit of photoshoppery, or the like. I hate it because it’s the equivalent of “too much free time”, only applied against one’s own self to deflect criticism. It’s a way to ask your audience to forgive this creative effort of yours if they dislike it; the only reason you did it was because you were bored.

But of course the creator wasn’t bored. He or she was playing with Photoshop or Legos or a webcam or whatever, indulging in creative play. And if this thing that was created was such a wasted effort, a mere doodle or so, then why put it on the internet for others to see? Because you’re proud of it. Or at least pleased with it. Or maybe you’d like some feedback on it. Say so. You’ve done something creative; show it off! Don’t shoot yourself in the foot and go, “I’m sorry, this suck, but forgive me; I was bored.” When I see that whole “I was bored” thing it instantly removes any amount of being impressed that I had before I saw that.

You’re not bored and you don’t have too much free time. You’re using the free time you have in a perfectly honorable way: trying to create something. Quit being ashamed of that.

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8 Responses to If You’re Bored Then You’re Boring

  1. Jeff says:

    This is in a different context, but I thought I should pile on anyway. There are lots of things my (undergraduate) students do and say that are very frustrating but not particularly surprising. One that always surprises me is a particular use of “bored”. The two most notable situations were in a calculus II class and again in my intro to mathematical modeling class.

    In calculus II we were working on an application project where we see how Fourier series are used in radio transmissions. It is a cool project and a cool application, and anyone who has ever listened to a radio should agree that it is relevant. And like most real, relevant applications, it is difficult. The mathematics is slick but not trivial. In any case, in two separate classes after seeing how it all finally fits together, I’ve had students say in reference to Fourier’s work, “I’d have to be so bored!” The first time it happened I was silently disgusted. The second time I indulged my inclination to reply, “You’d have to be considerably more than just bored.”

    It mathematical modeling the same thing happened except the phrase was applied to the creator of Microsoft Excel, which is the software we use in the class.

    There are so many things wrong with the use of that phrase that now I’m pissed all over again.

  2. Kitty says:

    In the same vein, I absolutely hate when creators of any kind put on a deep self-deprecating air, especially if it’s a foul-mouthed one. I see this in online galleries that are prefaced “Here’s my shit … sorry it’s so bad!” What do they want, a pat on the head and a “Aw, not true, you’re so awesome”? Own your work and be professional about it, and don’t taint my opinions with your phony self-loathing apologies before I even get a chance to look at what you’ve created.

  3. Mrs. Mancer says:

    Jeff–

    In the literature side of the house, this manifests as the incredulous “that author couldn’t possibly have been thinking of all that when she wrote that, could she???” (Usually asked when some elegant and subtle structure or imagery or symbolism is pointed out to them.)

    Leaving aside the thing we English profs call the “intentionist fallacy” for a mo’ (in which we are not supposed to care what the author meant to do), this question always angers me because:

    1) Yes, yes the author most certainly could. Just because a 19-year old cannot imagine putting that amount of thought into something does not mean that NO ONE could have put that much time into something.
    and
    2) It seems to me that there’s an epidemic failure to appreciate and respect creative work: not only when it’s art for art’s sake, or art for play (Mr. Mancer’s point), but even when it’s the kind of creativity that leads to life-changing innovations and inventions.

  4. I’d agree that the use of that word is used as an a priori deflection of criticism, and people should gleefully embrace what they put out there, even in play, but does that surprise you? More and more younger people are putting stuff up on the net, and the net is great for free form expressions of many types, yet when geeks in particular post stuff, their typical audience is other geeks, more than a few of which can be overly negative about unimportant details and topics. Until geek needlessly critical & negative culture shifts, I’d expect more of the same defensive postures.

  5. pronoblem says:

    I am bored (at work).

    I cannot wait to go home and do something creative.

    I think I’ll sketch in my moleskin tonight.

    No, you cannot see it.

  6. That guy says:

    I had visions, I was in them, I was looking into the mirror

  7. Pingback: Dave Ex Machina - A Thousand Points of Articulation » We Are Not Bored

  8. Casey says:

    I would say, stop being so serious.