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Boredom and Freedom: Different Views and Links Term Paper

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Updated: Sep 28th, 2021


Ever been in a conference room or a classroom and found yourself fantasizing or your attention wandering? Alternatively, have you discovered that suddenly your work is not all that enticing and arousing as was the case during the first week? Has your life suddenly become routine and monotonous leading to a lack of desire to go on living? (MacDonald & Holland 1105).

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then it is most likely that you are or have been suffering from boredom. Boredom is a condition characterized by low levels of arousal as well as wandering attention and is normally a result of the regular performance of monotonous routines (Emad 25). In this case, an individual feels empty and is in a state close to anxiety; a state of melancholy or depression (Emad 27). As a result, the individual becomes detached from reality and feels dissatisfied in his/her current position (Leslie 120). Children too, have been victims of boredom (Arp 22).

Boredom and idleness are more or less the same but still differ in a way. While boredom is a condition brought about by the performance of an activity routinely or being stuck in a situation, idleness, on the other hand, is a condition whereby an individual has absolutely nothing to do (Arp 20). Boredom has a source of arousal while idleness does not have a source of arousal (Arp 21).

Research findings have observed that boredom is all in the mind (Leslie 122). It is linked to both personality traits and emotional factors whereby some individuals are less likely to be bored as compared to others (MacDonald & Holland 1100). The Western culture defines boredom as having nothing to do but as earlier mentioned, having nothing to do applies to being idle (Emad 42). To be more specific, the culture ought to define boredom as having nothing else or nothing new to do, since it occurs as a result of monotony, or the performance of monotonous tasks (Arp 25).

The level of attention plays a very crucial role in boredom (Emad 60). Individuals who have incompetence at understanding their feelings as well as those who become preoccupied with their frame of mind are more easily bored. They are thus susceptible to illnesses such as drug abuse and addiction as well as depression (Frankfurt 100). Performance at work and school drastically drops and the individuals become socially uncomfortable. In a factory setting, for instance, employees tend to perform monotonous tasks in their respective assigned departments, day in day out, and though some may not get bored by the repetition of the tasks, others continue maintaining a depressed attitude and complain bitterly of the monotony (MacDonald & Holland 1110).

According to recent research, it has been observed that men generally tend to become more bored than women (Leslie 135). As a result, there are high numbers of men with drug addiction and abuse problems than women (Leslie 136). On the other hand, women tend to suffer more from depression as compared to men (Leslie 132). Thus, boredom can here be defined as a situation where the mind has too much excitement and an individual has the urge to do something but has difficulty in focusing the energy (Arp 37).

Boredom is both a social and cultural problem affecting life in general, from relationships to church life (MacDonald & Holland 1112). People complain of being bored with their partners at work or in marriage, bored with work and school as well as bored with church and the whole concept of heaven and going there (MacDonald & Holland 1113). Religion considers boredom as one of the seven deadly sins (Arp 56). In the entertainment industry, the media portrays a state of boredom as the norm. This means that society’s mind is being polluted by the notion that their lives are naturally and essentially meaningless. Boredom is hence the defining condition of a human race exceptionally in danger of losing its ability to grasp the mystery of its being (Emad 63).

Boredom is also the inability to sit still, rest or settle at any one time (Emad 64). In most cases, it can be linked to problems with attention (Frankfurt 110). For instance, an experiment was carried out in 1989 by psychologists James Laird and Robin Damrad-Frye of Clark University, to support a given hypothesis saying that “the essential behavior component of boredom is the struggle to maintain attention” (Frankfurt 111). Participants were required to listen to a comprehension having a low-level distraction such as a quiet television switched on in the next room (Frankfurt 112). Since they were not aware of what caused the distraction, they justified their inattention by describing it as boring (Frankfurt 114). The television set was then switched to blare and the participants found it utterly impossible to concentrate. However, when the television was switched off, some participants commented that the listening comprehension exercise was stimulating (Frankfurt 114).

Boredom can also be referred to as a state of becoming disengaged from the world (MacDonald & Holland 1114). There are different types of boredom for example, in cases whereby individuals abandon important life goals as a result of practical concerns or other pressures may experience boredom known as existential boredom (Emad 61). Then there is situational boredom which is caused by lack of or presence of something in a situation (Emad 69). For instance, it can be as a result of either waiting for a flight in an airport or listening to a boring conference or classroom lecture. Another type of boredom is repetitive boredom, which is a result of a task becoming boring due to repetition (Frankfurt 114). The task might be fun but repetition causes it to become boring (Frankfurt 114).

In North America for example, surveys have shown that half of the population are either permanently or temporarily bored, despite being flooded with fun industries (Arp 69). The Christian society has not been left behind in that most teenagers who happen to attend Anglican or Baptist church services tend to term them as ‘boring’ as compared to services of Redeemed and Deliverance Churches (MacDonald & Holland 1115).

The increase in technology and the introduction of the information society has not eased the problem of boredom at work. Challenging careers also do not guarantee freedom from boredom (Emad 58). You will find that when Executives and Managers of big corporations finally reach the top, there is nothing else left for them to do and they end up wondering if their career was worth the effort in the first place (Emad 65).

People try to escape from boredom by engaging in drugs, alcohol as well as sex (Leslie 160). Boredom is the absence of a challenge and individuals experiencing boredom ought to find alternatives, for instance, visiting family or friends (Leslie 161). Boredom means one has free time and does not know what to do with it (Arp 75). Taking walks or exercising, visiting zoos or parks as well as reading books, and acquiring knowledge on nature and the universe as a whole are just but a few alternatives of killing boredom (Frankfurt 115).

Once boredom sets in, it is good to take note of what exactly consists of feelings and forms one terms as boring, both physically, emotionally as well as mentally (Leslie 174). By just noticing what manner it comes in and allowing it to pass without trying to do anything, one will have performed the most powerful and direct way of transforming boredom (Arp 149).


Freedom is a condition whereby individual experiences minimal restrictions to doing any activity (Frankfurt 119). It is self-determinants (Frankfurt 120). A person can acquire freedom from different issues, for instance, freedom from unemployment, freedom from poverty and hunger as well as freedom from illiteracy (Arp 41). A person’s freedom can be determined by various factors, for instance, the government and the industrial sectors. The government determines the freedom of democracy and freedom from taxes while the industrial sectors determine freedom to breathe clean and fresh air (Frankfurt 122).

Freedom is getting to do what one wants as long as it does not interfere with the equal rights of others to do likewise (Leslie 172). It can be categorized into three kinds namely, Freedom from the Government, Freedom from the Boss, and Freedom from Everyone Else (Leslie 181). Freedom from the Government is whereby citizens have a right to choose whether or not to pay taxes which end up funding welfares (Arp 66). While working, people are in essence selling their time into servitude while taking orders from their supervisors (Arp 101). Freedom from the Boss is a state of not being under the authority of an employer and getting to do what one wants (Frankfurt 117).

Lastly, Freedom from Everyone Else is a state of being alone with nature and without any access to modern technology, for instance, going to a cabin upcountry where there is no presence of humanity or technology insight (MacDonald & Holland 1114). Although development has its many advantages, many individuals find it necessary to practically get away from it all to experience complete freedom (MacDonald & Holland 1114).

It has been observed that different freedoms clash with each other, that is, what can be termed as freedom for one individual might often be a restriction to another individual (Arp 99). It is virtually impossible to acquire or achieve perfect and total freedom (Arp 104). Freedom can either be positive or negative (Frankfurt 121). In a case whereby an employer manipulates his/her employees by either giving them low wages, making them work longer hours without extra pay, or makes them work in a hostile environment, then it can be said that negative freedom is being experienced by employees (Frankfurt 126).

Negative freedom can also be seen in such cases as where people stock their stands with pornographic materials in the name of freedom of speech, or in those who worship the Devil in the name of freedom of worship as well as those who murder babies who are not yet even born, in the name of freedom to abort (MacDonald & Holland 1118).

On the other hand, an example of positive freedom can be whereby an employer gives his/her employees freedom to think of and come up with new ideas for projects thus leading to improvement and development of the organization (Leslie 166). This freedom, positive or negative is dependent on both place and time (Arp 104). It is worth noting that the freedom this generation is currently enjoying did not come about just because people saw it fit to have it. Blood was shed by previous generations while fighting for it because they highly valued freedom (Arp 105).

Sense of freedom can be experienced in different ways. When a small baby bangs his/her toy on your polished furniture, you allow him/her since you would not want to intrude on his/her freedom or restrain his/her creativity (Leslie 170). A husband prefers going where he wants, whenever he wants and with whomever, he wants for him to experience a sense of freedom. An 18-year-old teenager arrives home in the wee hours of the morning without his/her parents’ knowledge of where he/she has been and with whom. If he/she is questioned on his whereabouts, he/she feels that his/her sense of freedom has been interfered with and might threaten to walk out of the house and disappear (Frankfurt 128).

The earth that we live in can be equated to a training school for us (MacDonald & Holland 1104). In schools, there is normally no complete freedom but a set of rules and disciplines (MacDonald & Holland 1111). Thus, human beings were never meant to enjoy complete freedom. This can be best illustrated by the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible (Luke 15:11-32). The Prodigal Son wanted his freedom and approached his father demanding his share of wealth (v. 12). As the story goes, the son went out to a far country and spent all his given wealth on worldly pleasures (v. 13-14). He gradually became broke and poor and ended up feeding with swine on a certain farm (v.15). Fortunately, he came to his senses and went back home to ask for forgiveness from his father and was warmly welcomed back and given a feast (v. 17-32).

We, as human beings have a desire to be forgiven and set free from all our iniquities which include lustful desires, malice, envy, jealousy as well as hatred and often beseech God, through prayer, to grant us freedom from them (MacDonald & Holland 1112).

A recent form of freedom has been introduced to the United States Constitution and that is Academic freedom, derived from the First Amendment (Frankfurt 127). This is a concept that originated from Germany in the 1850s where the Prussian Constitution of 1850 announced that science, as well as its teaching, was going to be free (Arp 103). Academic freedom is categorized into two groups namely Individual Academic freedom and Institutional Academic Freedom (Frankfurt 115 ).

Individual academic freedom is that freedom which grants protection to an individual professor while Institutional academic freedom is that which grants freedom to universities and protects them from interference by the government. Unlike Individual academic freedom, Institutional academic freedom does not offer protection to individual professors in case of dismissal (Emad 68).

In a meaningless and empty lifestyle, freedom often leads to boredom (Emad 71). In addition, in a society where its individuals are unproductive, boredom is evident (Emad 71). It is usually a sign that individuals of that society are unable to cater for themselves and their needs, despite there being adequate or plenty of time to do so (Leslie 173).

Traditional settings usually link boredom to a lack of freedom (Leslie 180). With little choice on how to make use of their time, some students may view school as boring, uninteresting, and the subjects too dry; too difficult, or too easy. There is also that student who feels that school does not fit their disposition, learning styles, and/or their rhythms (Arp 110). These, mostly prefer being active to sitting at desks, and thus, they always act out, under-achieve, or even become problematic to the management. Another clique may view schoolwork as being below their scope and they may either underachieve or score highly due to the schooling system being too easy for them (Arp 112).

Lack of knowledge on how to use freedom in meaningful and constructive ways creates obstacles. As a result, this leads to boredom due to the availability of time with nothing to do (Arp 118). Here, freedom leads to a feeling of emptiness and one sees no sense in doing things, or rather, in performing activities (MacDonald & Holland 1117).

Different Views of Freedom

Different people have different views of freedom. Some think that freedom is being able to do what you want to do as long as it is within the law while some think that freedom is whereby one is free to do what one wishes, good or bad (Frankfurt 130). Some still have the notion that for instance, in a country like Canada, to be free or to experience freedom, one has to wake up early to avoid others who influence their freedom (Arp 142). On the contrary, some believe that a person choosing to live in a free country acquires freedom (Emad 76).

In Christianity, the Gospel or the Bible in itself contains the message of freedom and liberation (Arp 138). For Christians, freedom is thus the ability to progress without restrictions on this earth that God put us. It is not therefore in agreement with limitation and the law, since it does not allow one to do as he/she pleases (Arp 143). In the Gospel according to John 3:16, God so loved the world (human beings) that He offered His only begotten Son as a living sacrifice, that whoever would believe in Him (His Son) would not die but have eternal life. Christians consider eternal life as the ultimate freedom for the human soul.

Muslims, on the other hand, believe that their sole purpose of being here on earth is not for punishment but to be tested to see if the divine bestowment is being used as per the requirements of the holy Quran (vs. 126). Prophet Muhammad was given instructions not to force or put pressure on people to accept the message of freedom (Quran 16:125-128).


Boredom is a state of doing something that with time becomes monotonous and is no longer fun while freedom is the ability to do what one wishes as long as it does not interfere with another’s life or right to privacy. Some individuals believe that boredom is freedom while others believe that freedom, to some extent, leads to boredom.

Boredom can be curbed in various ways, for instance, a person might try finding new activities to do such as visiting or taking walks. By doing so, freedom is finally experienced and the individual gets to enjoy life and yearns to continue living.


Arp, Kristana. The Bonds of Freedom. Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 2001.

Emad, Parvis. Boredom as Limit and Disposition. Heidegger Studies, Volume 1. 1985.63-78.

Frankfurt, Harry G. Concerning the Freedom and Limits of the Will. 1989. pp. 119-130.

Heidegger, Martin. A Kierkegaard Anthology. Edited by Robert Bretall. New York: Modern Library. Sixth Edition. 2001.

Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings. Edited by David Farrell Krell. Harper Collins Publishers. 1976. pp. 50-400.

MacDonald, D. A., & Holland, D. Spirituality and boredom proneness. Personality and Individual Differences, 32(6), 1113-1119. 2002.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Portable Nietzsche. Translated and edited by Walter Kaufman. New York: Penguin. 1982.

Sartre, Jean Paul. The Philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre. Edited by Robert Denoon Cumming. First Edition. New York: Random House. 1965.

St. Thomas Aquinas. The Summa Theologica. Second and Revised Edition. 1920.

The Bible. The Gideon’s International. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Copyright 1982.

Thiele, Leslie Paul. Nature and Freedom: A Heideggerian Critique of Biocentric and Sociocentric Environmentalism. Environmental Ethics 17:171-90. 1995.

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