“I’m a slave to my hatred of boredom.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
With all this talk about “content marketing” and “storytelling” I think it is important we discuss … well … boredom. And I don’t mean “you need to entertain” bullshit … I simply mean boredom. That said. Far too often I think we confuse a lack of attention, attention spans, or attention in general, with a hatred of boredom. I imagine I could say that this is simply about discussing two sides of the same coin.
One side is attention span.
Regardless of my imaginary coin … attention spans, in general, are certainly one of the main “topic du jours” a shitload of people, and ‘experts’, pontificate on espousing on “a generation borne of short attention spans” <using the infamous … “we have attention spans of a goldfish” — note: we do not …>. I have always said we do not have significantly shorter attention spans today than we have had in the past and that technology isn’t make us a society with an attention deficit <although technology does have other affects>.
That said … why doesn’t anyone ever discuss WHY our attention wavers?
Many people, I included, have discussed relevance matters in gaining attention and maintaining attention and many people, I included, have discussed how interest and attention are inextricably linked … but why don’t we just simply talk about boredom?
If a goldfish is bored, they will not pay attention.
If you are bored enough <as the chart “structure of boredom” suggests you attain “demonic boredom” – this is the type of boredom which can make you say stupid things out loud>
Here is the flipside of the coin.
If you can keep me from being bored? You have my attention.
Personally … I hate being bored. Some people confuse this with a lack of ability to pay attention. They are wrong. People have my undivided attention and focus … if I am not bored with what is being said or shown.
I don’t think I am particularly unique in this.
I do know because of my hatred of boredom that I have quasi-mastered the art of ‘surface attention.’ Surface attention?
I can guarantee you that I am gonna feel some hate <some boredom> within those 75 pages <and the 75+ words that must be said accompanying every page>. But that hate will not keep me from perking up on … well … say … page 51 where … well … you aren’t boring me.
And I have to admit. It is good that I have mastered this particular skill because F. Scott and I have something in common … I am a slave to my hatred of boredom.
Because outside of a meeting or some environment constricting my ability to flee my boredom … not only do I not pay attention but I move on. I actually will get away, if not actually flee, from boredom. I hate being bored so much I have been chastised for being rude <and sometimes it can also mistakenly be construed as some version of ‘self superiority’>.
I am neither rude nor do I believe I am smarter, or superior or better in any way … I am simply a slave to my hatred of boredom. In fact … as a parallel point … I will actively search out ‘non-boring.’ So … its not like I don’t want to hear what people have to say and i actually highly value other’s opinions, especially of they are contrarian views., but just as i am active n my pursuit for non-boredom i am also quite active in avoiding, and fleeing, actual boredom.
Maybe I don’t handle it as well as many other people but, once again, I just don’t think I am that unique. Given the opportunity I believe most of us schmucks would haul ass when bored by someone or something. In most cases it isn’t rooted in any thought that someone is ‘dumb’ or ‘an asshole/asshat’ … we are just fucking bored. I imagine my real point <and this would be great advice to professional marketers> is … well … if you want my attention don’t bore me.
This doesn’t mean ‘entertain me’ or ‘make me laugh’ or … well … any simplistic tripe many experts spout. Don’t overthink it. There is no formula. And there is no ‘one thing’ to do.
Just don’t bore me.
I don’t care how you do it.
You can engage me intellectually.
You can engage me by … well … being engaging.
You can engage me by making me smile.
You can engage me by tapping into my inner altruism.
You can engage me by tapping into my sense of responsibility.
The list of how to engage someone is relatively infinite.
But one thing circumvents the infinite list of possibilities … boredom.
I am a slave to my hatred of boredom.
And while I may hate boredom a little more than the average everyday schmuck … in general … I tend to believe most everyone hates being bored.
There is some professional advice.
Don’t be boring and don’t bore people you have an interest in communicating with.