top of page

The Unbearable Distress of Being

"Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself."

Søren Kierkegaard

Boredom. It is one of the greatest afflictions of modern man, which often appears suddenly and for no reason. Boredom which wreaks havoc on the soul of humans, imprisons him in darkness, and almost creates nausea, has been tried to be explained by many thinkers, psychiatrists, and philosophers over time. So, what is this boredom that keeps one trapped between invisible walls? And is it possible to perceive boredom as something that triggers human creativity, instead of being ashamed of it?

Nowadays, the majority of people are not content with the boredom and trying to get rid of it by going out for a walk, watching TV, reading a book, browsing countless apps on the mobile phone, meeting up with friends and chatting, having a few drinks, going to the psychiatrist or gym. Especially with the pandemic, the phenomenon of boredom became the agenda, people tried to find an occupation to get rid of this 'disease', as a matter of fact, boredom remained where it was without changing shape.

The recognition of the word "Boredom" is known to have begun with Charles Dickens' novel The Bleak House, published in 1853. In the Bleak House, Dickens repeatedly recounts that the aristocratic Lady Dedlock was “bored to death”, both from her marriage and from recurring entertainment scenes. Again in the same novel, Dickens describes boredom as a “monster”. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, boredom became one of the main issues that existentialist writers focused on. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard saw boredom as the beginning of everything and even all evil. He thought that the gods created the world because they were bored, and as a result, Adam and Eve committed the original sin because they were bored. Jean-Paul Sartre described boredom as "leprosy of the soul," while Arthur Schopenhauer, who has a reputation as a pessimistic philosopher, argued that boredom is inevitable, saying that even if human needs are satisfied, all he will do is leave himself in the arms of boredom.

From a historical perspective, it is accepted that boredom first appeared among the clergy and the nobility with modernism and industrialization. The biggest victims of boredom have been the higher classes, the wealthy. While the lower classes struggle to survive and only find a place to eat and sleep; the upper classes had too much free time because they had no such occupations. Logically speaking, extra free time is necessary for boredom to occur. This excess of free time confronts one with the meaninglessness of life, and when it turns out that everything is meaningless, boredom sets in.

It is possible to say that boredom is not mainly caused by laziness, but by the idea that taking any action is not meaningful. Boredom is a loss of meaning, helplessness; feeling oneself "excess" in the outside world, while feeling ''lack'' in the inner world. When boredom occurs, there is nothing worth doing anymore, human consciousness has not found anything worth connecting to. While this situation creates inaction, doing nothing also drags humans to a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. This situation, which one feels as if it will last forever, can also cause many psychological disorders in today's world.

Then the question comes to mind: Is boredom, as a result of perceiving the meaninglessness of life, always bad? Does not boredom push us to rebuild meaning, to question existence, in short, to think? At this point, it can be argued that boredom paves the way for people to use their creativity. Man will either create a new meaning or fill this gap with hedonistic actions independent of meaning. In today's world, it is possible to say that majority of people prefer the second option with the development of technology and the endless hunger that capitalism has accustomed us to.

Boredom, which destroys the magic of the world the moment it comes, is a phenomenon that has affected and still affects every person from past to present. When a person who is alone with himself encounters the meaninglessness of life and the facts in life, boredom begins. Boredom, which is also a good opportunity to make sense of everything again, can also lead to new inventions and creativity. It seems that boredom will remain a topic of discussion until human existence is erased from this world.


  • “Can Sıkıntısı | Yanlış Okumalar — Yalın Alpay | B08.” YouTube, uploaded by AVANGART, 14 Aug. 2021,

  • Damiani, Jesse. “The History of Boredom Might Surprise You.” Freethink, 3 Sept. 2021,

  • Karakaya, Beyza. “Can sıkıntısının bunaltıcı tarihi ve tarifi.” Gzt, 1 Dec. 2020,

  • Peeren, Esther. “You Must (Not) Be Bored!” Boredom, Shanzhai, and Digitisation in the Time of Creative China, 2019, pp. 101–09. Crossref, doi:10.2307/j.ctvqr1bnw.8.

  • Tilburg, Wijnand van. “Leprosy of the Soul? A Brief History of Boredom.” The Conversation, 21 Aug. 2020,


Author Photo

Umut Açıkgöz

Arcadia _ Logo.png


Arcadia, has many categories starting from Literature to Science. If you liked this article and would like to read more, you can subscribe from below or click the bar and discover unique more experiences in our articles in many categories

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
bottom of page