Is Boredom Worse than Death?
Press Start for “Is Boredom Worse than Death?” by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more.
Ep.34: Is Boredom Worse than Death?
Written by: Matt Reichle
Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Is Boredom Worse than Death?
When waiting in line at the DMV or listening to Mazak while on hold… one may think, please someone kill me, if only to make it stop. This kind of brutally senseless monotony may cause people to question: Is boredom worse than death?
For Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard there are few things worse than boredom- death included.
Writing under one of his many pseudonyms, Kierkegard went so far as to say that, “The root of evil is boredom, and that is what must be kept at bay.”
You see, boredom isn’t just being all dressed up with nowhere to go, it isn’t just down time. It is a symptom of a much larger problem—boredom is a genuine malady of the soul.
As a mood boredom reveals something about the way that you are living your life. For Keirkegaard there are a few ways that people tend to live. They either live the life of the Aesthete, the ethicist, or the religious person.
Each type of person deals with boredom differently. The aesthete is primarily concerned with their personal experience of pleasure and pain, they prefer shiny new toys, rollercoasters, and frat parties —they are the sort of thrill seekers who are constantly looking for new ways to make life interesting. Their solution to boredom is akin to planting new crops each season—to keep the soil of life rich, they chase new experiences.
For Kierkegaard the Aesthete doesn’t understand that the search for new pleasures is futile. By concerning themselves with sensual experiences and finding humor in life—they refuse to focus on the real problem—themselves.
The aesthetic life is a selfish life—they aren’t concerned with others—their lives are meaningless because they exist without a greater purpose. Boredom is the symptom of this spiritual deficiency—and to Kierkegaard, their very soul is at stake.
The Ethicist seems to deal with boredom in a better fashion, they construct philosophical answers to the problems they see in life—they create entire systems of ethical relations. Commendable, but for Kierkegaard this isn’t enough. The ethicist’s work is still inadequate because it is missing the spiritual element.
Basically, the ethicist and the aesthete both desperately need Jesus. Kierkegaard claims that the cure for boredom isn’t constant activity, it isn’t in losing yourself in abstract philosophical problems—the cure is in your relationship to a higher power.
The reason most people are bored is because they have no purpose. Christianity creates significance in every moment—the concept of Agape—or love—fills the emptiness of every moment with the realization that people’s work shouldn’t be directed towards selfish ends or sensual experience, but should be directed towards eternal salvation.
Faith restores meaning to the vacuous moments of dread and pointlessness that people experience in boredom. The idea isn’t to find the most extreme experiences possible to combat boredom—it is to live a life in witness of the divine, to care for others deeply, and to cultivate a passionate concern for others.
Truly Kierkegaard takes the wristband approach,so when bored, dear viewer just ask yourself: what would Jesus do?