How To Bore The Children
How To Bore The Children
By Charles Eisenstein / charleseisenstein.wordpress.com

Here is how to make a child bored: first and foremost, keep him indoors so that the infinitude of nature, its endless variation and chaotic messiness is replaced by a finite, orderly, predictable realm. Second, through television and video games, habituate him to intense stimuli so that everything else seems boring by comparison. Third, eliminate as much as possible any unstructured time with other children, so that he loses his capacity for creative play and needs entertainment instead. Fourth, shorten his attention span with fast-paced programming, dumbed-down books, and frequent interruptions of his play. Fifth, hover over him whenever possible to stunt his self-trust and make him dependent on outside stimulation. Sixth, hurry him from activity to activity to create anxiety about time and eliminate the easy sense of timelessness native to the young.

No one, of course, sets out on purpose to strip away their children’s most primal self-sufficiency — the self-sufficiency of play — but that is the net effect of a culture fixated on safety, bound to schedules, and addicted to entertainment. In a former time, children, despite a dearth of complicated toys, were rarely bored. Ask your grandparents whether they were bored as children, with their bikes, bats and balls, simple dolls that didn’t speak or move by themselves, in the days before television. Boredom, in fact, is a very recent word, apparently not having appeared in print until the mid-19th century. It is not a natural state, and did not exist in state of nature, or in a state anywhere near nature. It is a symptom of our alienation.

Boredom, however, is quite good for the economy. It motivates all kinds of consumption, an endless hunger to keep ourselves entertained. It points therefore to a need that was once met without money, but that is now met with money; the phenomenon of boredom and its alleviation exemplifies a much more general economic principle.

In order for the (money) economy to grow, some function once exercised without money must be converted into a good or a service. One can view economic growth as a progressive stripmining of nature and community, turning the former into commodities and the latter into paid services, depleting, respectively, the natural and social commons. Pollute the water and sell bottled water; disempower folk healing and make people pay for medical care; destroy cultural traditions that bestow identity and sell brand name sneakers… the examples are endless. Boredom is a symptom of a similar stripmining of what was once a kind of wealth native to us all: the ability to feel good doing nothing, the ability to create our own fun, a general sense of sovereignty over our own time. This is a form of what I call spiritual capital.

As I write this, my six-year-old sits a few feet away, wholly absorbed in threading a colored string through an old tape roll. Without a screen in front of him, his brain must make its own images — an ability that counts among the forms of spiritual capital. Before that he was begging to be allowed to watch a video. His whining and cajoling seemed almost like an addict wanting a fix. I haven’t tried to isolate him from society. Even though we don’t have TV, we do have videos, and he still gets plenty of that kind of thing elsewhere. Besides, there are rarely any kids playing outside. Their parents won’t let them, at least not in this neighborhood. They are afraid: afraid of nature, afraid of other people, afraid of what might happen, suspicious of play, loath to have their children unsupervised.

Let us create a world of real wealth, where our ability to play and imagine are intact, and where the outdoors is full of children.

4.5 ·
3
What's Next
Trending Today
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 11,592 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 10,682 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 9,255 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 8,491 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 6,950 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 4,870 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
13 Crises That We All Must Face
George Monbiot · 3,845 views today · We face (at least) 13 major crises, some of which are immediate. It’s time for some hard thinking about how we confront them.
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 2,885 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 2,861 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,345 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Sky Roosevelt-Morris: The Secret of Indigenous Resiliency
2 min · 2,015 views today · Activist Sky Roosevelt-Morris is of the Shawnee and White Mountain Apache Nations. She is a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In...
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,883 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Andy Goes In - Working Undercover in a Factory Farm
10 min · 1,869 views today · He's a $10/hr farmhand, and his name isn't Andy. Andy Goes In is a compelling 10-minute documentary short about a Mercy For Animals undercover investigator. The vast majority...
15 Films Inspiring and Illuminating the 'New Story' Revolution
Tim Hjersted · 1,793 views today · Charles Eisenstein is one of the first people I heard talk about the "new story," synthesizing a diverse movement that has been emerging for the last several decades. When I go...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,597 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Australian Government Promotes Crap with Adani Carmichael Coal Mine
2 min · 1,240 views today · The Australian Government just released this advert about the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and it's surprisingly honest and informative. 6 WAYS YOU CAN HELP STOP CCRAP: 1...
Incredible Stories From 5 Inspirational Farms
12 min · 1,191 views today · In this series of 5 short films we visit five farms where incredible things sprout. From growing massive, 100-pound vegetables to giving injured animals another chance, these...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,173 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,138 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Satish Kumar on "What Is a Sacred Place?"
3 min · 1,094 views today · Satish Kumar brings a Hindu, Buddhist and Jain perspective to the definition of "sacred place." We found his explanation so compelling that we edited a three-minute piece...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
How To Bore The Children