If you want to be instantly anesthetized, just check out #boredom on Instagram. While the topic of boredom might seem dull, an international team of scientists from the University of Konstanz in Germany and McGill University in Canada has found it to be deeply engaging. In a recent study published in the journal "Motivation and Emotion," a new type of boredom called "apathetic boredom" is described. Characterized by feelings of helplessness and lethargy that are similar to depression, it's the bottom of the boredom barrel. That brings the total number of ways you can be lulled into listlessness to five, according to science.
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The researchers explain that some forms of boredom are motivating (think: "Something's gotta give!"), while others are non-achievement-oriented (think: coach potato). Still, the scientific categories of boredom are subtle to the non-boredom-obsessed layperson. Here are five emissaries from the animal kingdom to help us explain (the clips below aren't actually part of the research, but they make the distinctions less ... boring):
1. Indifferent boredom describes a state of withdrawal and "cheerful fatigue." It's that late-night Internet surfing, accompanied by a carbo-loaded-snacks kind of vibe.
2. Calibrating boredom is characterized by dreaminess, and a willingness to change. The researchers call it a "slightly unpleasant emotional state."
3. Searching boredom is when you are restless and emotionally itchy. You are actively looking for ways to dig out of that rut.
4. Reactant boredom is when you blow your cool and run screaming from whatever tedious thing is bludgeoning your mind and soul with its sheer tediousness. You just can't take it anymore and need to escape.
5. Apathetic boredom is when you can't stand your situation but can't find the gumption to change it. Undiluted monotony plus helplessness.
By identifying which type of boredom an individual might experience, the researchers propose that better strategies can be developed to improve the performance of students, workers or other folks suffering from ennui.