The most common way to define boredom in Western culture is having nothing to do. Boredom is generally viewed as an unpleasant emotional state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity. The condition corresponds more precisely to the French ennui, an existential perception of life’s futility. Ennui is a consequence of unfulfilled aspirations (Goodstein, 2005).
Martin Heidegger wrote about boredom in two texts available in English, in the 1929/30 semester lecture course The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, and again in the essay What is Metaphysics? published in the same year. In the lecture, Heidegger included about 100 pages on boredom, probably the most extensive philosophical treatment ever of the subject. He focused on waiting at railway stations in particular as a major context of boredom.[25] Søren Kierkegaard remarks in Either/Or that "patience cannot be depicted" visually, since there is a sense that any immediate moment of life may be fundamentally tedious.

Although it has not been widely studied, research on boredom suggests that boredom is a major factor impacting diverse areas of a person's life. People ranked low on a boredom-proneness scale were found to have better performance in a wide variety of aspects of their lives, including career, education, and autonomy.[30] Boredom can be a symptom of clinical depression. Boredom can be a form of learned helplessness, a phenomenon closely related to depression. Some philosophies of parenting propose that if children are raised in an environment devoid of stimuli, and are not allowed or encouraged to interact with their environment, they will fail to develop the mental capacities to do so.
Grunge lit is an Australian literary genre of fictional or semi-autobiographical writing in the early 1990s about young adults living in an "inner cit[y]" "...world of disintegrating futures where the only relief from...boredom was through a nihilistic pursuit of sex, violence, drugs and alcohol".[47] Often the central characters are disfranchised, lacking drive and determination beyond the desire to satisfy their basic needs. It was typically written by "new, young authors"[47] who examined "gritty, dirty, real existences"[47] of everyday characters. It has been described as both a sub-set of dirty realism and an offshoot of Generation X literature.[48] Stuart Glover states that the term "grunge lit" takes the term "grunge" from the "late 80s and early 90s—...Seattle [grunge] bands".[49] Glover states that the term "grunge lit" was mainly a marketing term used by publishing companies; he states that most of the authors who have been categorized as "grunge lit" writers reject the label.[49]

People who lack self-awareness are more prone to boredom. A bored individual is unable to articulate what it is that he or she desires or wants to do. They have trouble describing their feelings. An inability to know what will make one happy can lead to a more profound existential boredom. Not knowing what we are searching for means that we lack the capacity to choose appropriate goals for engagement with the world (Eastwood, 2012).
Grunge lit is an Australian literary genre of fictional or semi-autobiographical writing in the early 1990s about young adults living in an "inner cit[y]" "...world of disintegrating futures where the only relief from...boredom was through a nihilistic pursuit of sex, violence, drugs and alcohol".[47] Often the central characters are disfranchised, lacking drive and determination beyond the desire to satisfy their basic needs. It was typically written by "new, young authors"[47] who examined "gritty, dirty, real existences"[47] of everyday characters. It has been described as both a sub-set of dirty realism and an offshoot of Generation X literature.[48] Stuart Glover states that the term "grunge lit" takes the term "grunge" from the "late 80s and early 90s—...Seattle [grunge] bands".[49] Glover states that the term "grunge lit" was mainly a marketing term used by publishing companies; he states that most of the authors who have been categorized as "grunge lit" writers reject the label.[49]
Boredom also plays a role in existentialist thought. Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche were two of the first philosophers considered fundamental to the existentialist movement. Like Pascal, they were interested in people's quiet struggle with the apparent meaninglessness of life and the use of diversion to escape from boredom. Kierkegaard's Either/Or describes the rotation method, a method used by higher level aesthetes in order to avoid boredom. The method is an essential hedonistic aspect of the aesthetic way of life. For the aesthete, one constantly changes what one is doing in order to maximize the enjoyment and pleasure derived from each activity.

A "banishment room" (also known as a "chasing-out-room" and a "boredom room") is a modern employee exit management strategy whereby employees are transferred to a department where they are assigned meaningless work until they become disheartened enough to quit.[37][38][39] Since the resignation is voluntary, the employee would not be eligible for certain benefits. The legality and ethics of the practice is questionable and may be construed as constructive dismissal by the courts in some regions.


Boredom is a universal experience. Almost everyone suffers from it in the course of their lives. Existing survey estimates show that between 30 percent and 90 percent of American adults experience boredom at some point in their daily lives, as do 91 percent to 98 percent of youth (Chin et al., 2017). Men are generally more bored than women. There is also a positive link between very low educational attainment and boredom.
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