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February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms" 
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Post February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
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Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:17 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Quote:
Then again, maybe he simply is bored and would be best served by buying a new video game.


I'd recommend Mass Effect 2, a truly great way to kill 30-35 hours of your life. And if you haven't played the original Mass Effect there's another 30-35 hours of time filled.

Just a suggestion.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:30 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
BANKA wrote:
Quote:
Then again, maybe he simply is bored and would be best served by buying a new video game.


I'd recommend Mass Effect 2, a truly great way to kill 30-35 hours of your life. And if you haven't played the original Mass Effect there's another 30-35 hours of time filled.

Just a suggestion.


Agreed to the max.

Anyway,

James Berardinelli wrote:
Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who feels this way. Am I the only one who looks at today's world and sees beneath the glitter and milk and honey a persistent aura of decay? Am I the only one troubled by the lack of civility in on-line interaction


This is why I love these forums. It is definitely the most civilized forum I visit frequently. Forums in sites like Gamefaqs and IGN make me cringe.

As to the boredom thing, I do think it comes down to a lack of passion. I never find myself bored. I'll either watch a movie, play a video game, read a book, or write something. I find that I'm wasting my time if I sit there and tell myself I'm bored.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:34 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I have a theory: culture is becoming more and more "specialized". One need only look at music to see this: there are far more genres and sub-genres of music today than there were 30 years ago. Television and film seem to be headed that way as well. In such a culture, it's quite possible that one's interests and possibly even identity are compartmentalized to the point where anything outside the box isn't really considered to be an alternative.

Then again, maybe he does indeed just need a new video game. If he's into FPS games, I'd recommend the Half-Life 2: Orange Box set with related mods like Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. There's nothing like shooting someone in the face online to provide some needed catharsis.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:46 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I am in total agreement with James. I can remember 15 years ago (damn, has it really been that long!?) when I was in middle school thinking that the advancement of technology would be the coolest thing ever. Being the sci-fi obsessed kid that I was, I always imagined the world being completely automated and run by robots and I awaited that the day that it would finally happen with baited breath. Well, those days have essentially arrived (albeit not in the way I was expecting) and now I have come to realize how stifling modern technology has become to us. I could give examples but I feel like I'd just be rehashing what James wrote so eloquently in this article.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:54 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
oafolay wrote:
I am in total agreement with James. I can remember 15 years ago (damn, has it really been that long!?) when I was in middle school thinking that the advancement of technology would be the coolest thing ever. Being the sci-fi obsessed kid that I was, I always imagined the world being completely automated and run by robots and I awaited that the day that it would finally happen with baited breath. Well, those days have essentially arrived (albeit not in the way I was expecting) and now I have come to realize how stifling modern technology has become to us. I could give examples but I feel like I'd just be rehashing what James wrote so eloquently in this article.


If I want to watch trasy tv, I'll watch TMZ and call it a day for trash. With that being said, technology has consumed our lives in the blink of an eye. The iPad, anyone?


Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:57 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
oafolay wrote:
I am in total agreement with James. I can remember 15 years ago (damn, has it really been that long!?) when I was in middle school thinking that the advancement of technology would be the coolest thing ever. Being the sci-fi obsessed kid that I was, I always imagined the world being completely automated and run by robots and I awaited that the day that it would finally happen with baited breath. Well, those days have essentially arrived (albeit not in the way I was expecting) and now I have come to realize how stifling modern technology has become to us. I could give examples but I feel like I'd just be rehashing what James wrote so eloquently in this article.


It could be worse, there could be real robots who'll overthrow us human overlords.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:00 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
The "lack of civility" point is well taken. Take the Saints' Super Bowl victory, for example. There are those (mostly grumbling Colts fans) who relentlessly tweet and spew bile online about how they don't give a rat's ass about the city of New Orleans and how the post-Hurricane Katrina angle is overplayed. Such comments are appalling because that truly is a legitimate human interest story. Given how popular football is in this country and how communities all around bond over it, the impact of this victory cannot be ignored.

Also, JB, your nephew should play all of the Metal Gear Solid games if he can get his hands on them. Hugely entertaining to play and, for my money, the best video game narrative EV-ER. That should get his brain and imagination working for a while. Some of the themes (like dehumanization) actually tie in nicely with your article, by the way.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:27 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
James, I agree with your thoughts on the decline of civility. Then agin, I am close to your age so it may be generational. Charles Stross (author of Glasshouse) wrote recently that children of tomorrow will be in constant contact with their peer group, wherever those peers are in the world. I think this would have a hideous effect on civil discourse in that we all tend to move towards places where our opinion is shared rather than challenged. We could safely ignore opposing opinions and never have to fear for actually changing our minds on something.

I can say this about cell phones - I wish cell phone jammers were legal in the US. I know, I know emergency calls and all that, but if you are on the phone while in line at Taco Bell then by definition it is not an emergency. I have a Blackberry and it is useful but the thin line between my work and home life is blurred even further.

Cheers, John


Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:38 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I don't think it necessarily has to do with your age - I'm in my early 20s and I feel the same: overwhelmed by it all sometimes. It's why I've chosen not to have an online blog or a myspace or even a facebook. I have to utilize the internet and my computer for so many tasks nowadays that it's just a treat to get off of it when I don't need to be "hooked up."

I think sometimes people can be bored just because of the sheer number of options that they have - there's just so much out there that you've dabbled in and "experienced" and it leaves you untouched, like the jaded cynic. It's like when I was a younger. Only 4 years ago, it made me SO happy to find an old childhood relic on youtube (the theme song to Batman the Animated Series or Sailor Moon, a catchy commercial jingle,) but now, when I search for something, I EXPECT to find it and when it pops up, I feel a small burst of pleasure, but nowhere near the excitement of the past.

And I agree about the lack of civility on many forums - it's why I appreciate this one a lot when I have the time to read it. I sure hope it stays this way.


Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:39 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
James,

This may be your best post yet.... I'm serious about this.

You see - I think you're in your late thirties. Imagine what it's like for someone in their early fifties.

Everything you said is true. Now amplify it by 2X or even 3X. That dinosaur feeling. That thought that quality is now irrelevant and it's really all about how many posts you make, even though your average word count may be less than 10. It's all about throwing junk into the conversation and standing back with impunity to see what happens.

One of the reasons I am increasingly less involved here, is this feeling of "What's the point?". "Why waste my time?".

Your forum is unusually erudite and educated versus most. There is a sophistication about 10-15 people's posts. They argue cogently and this makes it fascinating to read their posts. But still the overall experience is intellectually unrewarding for me. The operative words here are the last two.

In January my girlfriend said to me, "Why don't you devote your energy to real people rather than avatars". She was right.

I have recently been making a big effort to understand Twitter for one of my businesses. Roger Ebert is a god in that forum BTW. You have less than 200 characters to get your point across. I am mixed in my reaction. Excited by the thought of a revenue stream. Sad at the pathetic discourse that goes on.

But I am a fossil. You are merely a dinosaur :-)

Rob


Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:24 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Thank you James, that was a good read.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:08 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Very insightful post as usual, and despite being young myself, i'm actually not all that absorbed into current techonology. Don't get me wrong, I do love Youtube and have found lots of great stuff on there and I don't know how I could go evne one day without internet, but still all this information and tech DOES get overwhelming and a little tiresome after awhile. Whenever I read the current news headlines on my brower page, I can't believe how pointless most of them are(the Tiger Woods thing, Gerard and Jennifer's birthday plans, does ANYBODY seriously care about that stuff? :roll: ) and unlike most people in my age range(i'm 19 if anyone cares), i'm not all that up to date technology wise, I don't have a Myspace or Facebook page and don't ever really plan on getting one, I don't have, want, or need an iPhone or anything like that, my current cellphone works just fine though I never bother texting because it's seems pointless to me. So while I may not completely remove myself from modern technology, i'm definitely not nearly as consumed by it as most people around my age seem to be. I still value face-to-face interaction FAR more then online interaction(though I do have one online friend who i only talk to around once or twice per week) and I enjoy reading a book once in a great while(though it's usually an autobiography or information book, as I rarely ever feel the desire to read novels)I have my own philosophy(and i'm 99% sure someone else came up with it before I did :lol: )It's fine to embrace technology so long as you don't let yourself get absorbed by it, and I intend to keep on living by those words for as long as I live.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:27 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
When I was a kid, the one thing that kept me from boredom was playing outside. Whether it be playing basketball, skateboarding, or just riding my bike around exploring. Sure, I would watch more than enough TV in the evenings and would occasianlly play super nintendo for seemingly days on end, but it was being outside in the fresh air that was most beneficial to me. I remeber a couple kids in my neighborhood who would sit on their computer and play video games all day everyday and they were always the weirdest, most socially awkward people. I swear, being out in fresh air and sunshine is the healthiest thing for any person, and not just kids. I fully embrace and utilize the technology available to me today, but I always try to remember that there is a real world out there that brings more satisfaction than any digital one ever will.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:29 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I think facebook is a very large part of the problem. If youtube is the best thing to come out of the internet, and I think it is, facebook must be one of the worst. It wouldn't be if people used it simply to keep tabs on old acquaintances they may never see again in person, but instead it has become like a drug; the drug of artificial social interaction, and it's really starting to get old. At my college, I miss innumerable social events and in-jokes among other things because I haven't been on facebook that day. For the service it provides, it's not even very well-designed as a site. Everybody knows this, but they don't care. And when you talk to someone on facebook, then see them in person, one encounter does not acknowledge the other; very weird and awkward. James is right about facebook not engaging anybody intellectually, but people are addicted to it anyway. That's where the boredom comes from.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:20 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Vexer wrote:
Very insightful post as usual, and despite being young myself, i'm actually not all that absorbed into current techonology. Don't get me wrong, I do love Youtube and have found lots of great stuff on there and I don't know how I could go evne one day without internet, but still all this information and tech DOES get overwhelming and a little tiresome after awhile. Whenever I read the current news headlines on my brower page, I can't believe how pointless most of them are(the Tiger Woods thing, Gerard and Jennifer's birthday plans, does ANYBODY seriously care about that stuff? :roll: ) and unlike most people in my age range(i'm 19 if anyone cares), i'm not all that up to date technology wise, I don't have a Myspace or Facebook page and don't ever really plan on getting one, I don't have, want, or need an iPhone or anything like that, my current cellphone works just fine though I never bother texting because it's seems pointless to me. So while I may not completely remove myself from modern technology, i'm definitely not nearly as consumed by it as most people around my age seem to be. I still value face-to-face interaction FAR more then online interaction(though I do have one online friend who i only talk to around once or twice per week) and I enjoy reading a book once in a great while(though it's usually an autobiography or information book, as I rarely ever feel the desire to read novels)I have my own philosophy(and i'm 99% sure someone else came up with it before I did :lol: )It's fine to embrace technology so long as you don't let yourself get absorbed by it, and I intend to keep on living by those words for as long as I live.


Good on you. I agree with most everything you say.

Until I read Vexer's post, the only thing I really wanted to say was that I hadn't heard the phrase "four-square" in almost 24 years. Good God, I'm getting old.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:48 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
James:

I've been a reader of your reviews for at least 10 years (back when it was bigscreen.com or something like that) but I never knew that this forum existed. Found it by chance.

Your reviews are always insightful and I find myself agreeing with you on the points you make on the movies. Despite the proliferation of me-too reviewers, I tend to put the heaviest weight on what you have to say about a certain movie I planned on watching. I hear friends and colleagues talk about how great a movie is, the first question that pops into my mind is, well what does James Berardinelli say about it? I guess it's similar to customer/author loyalty, you have reader loyalty.

As to the original point, yes we are quickly becoming the people in Wall-e. Funny how a cartoon drives home the point better than what the pundits and our leaders say or do.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:48 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Very good article. The first paragraph can stand by itself.
It is very often for me to get lost among the options I have. I usually end up doing nothing constructive :cry:


Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:00 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Hmmmm it seems that I'm in the minority here because I think the internet is an unmitigated "good" in my life. It has made many things that I yearned for as a kid a reality for me as an adult.

-I like the St. Louis Cardinals but have lived in New York, Michigan, North Carolina, and Maryland. That meant I never had access to local papers, but that matters not at all with the internet. If they win a game, I have the AP article, the Cardinals.mlb.com article, and the Post-Dispatch article all at my fingertips.
-As I got more into movies I craved film criticism, since none of my friends had seen the movies I was watching. Finally after watching Stephen King's Duel and being frustrated that no one around me knew anything about it, I found the IMDB (and later, by extension, James Berardinelli) and was in cinephile heaven. It opened up new worlds for me as a film fan.
-You know what sucked? Getting lost. Thank you MapQuest and GoogleMaps.
-There's this website. Wikipedia. With everything, ever, on it. Aside from lesser-known works by various bands. But nonetheless, if you want to know what something is, you just type it in. How incredible is that? I remember being made fun of as a 6th grader because I didn't know what some slangy sexual term meant and I had no way to find out. That's a thing of the past.

And that's just a few things. What about finding restaurants upon moving to a new place? Or having a forum (this one :D) to debate movies with people who can actually compare La Strada and La Dolce Vita? I may read fewer novels with the internet always nearby, but in terms of sheer writing I read more. So you all may be nostalgic for the age when there was less information, but I love every minute of it

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Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:53 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
JamesKunz wrote:
Hmmmm it seems that I'm in the minority here because I think the internet is an unmitigated "good" in my life. It has made many things that I yearned for as a kid a reality for me as an adult.

-I like the St. Louis Cardinals but have lived in New York, Michigan, North Carolina, and Maryland. That meant I never had access to local papers, but that matters not at all with the internet. If they win a game, I have the AP article, the Cardinals.mlb.com article, and the Post-Dispatch article all at my fingertips.
-As I got more into movies I craved film criticism, since none of my friends had seen the movies I was watching. Finally after watching Stephen King's Duel and being frustrated that no one around me knew anything about it, I found the IMDB (and later, by extension, James Berardinelli) and was in cinephile heaven. It opened up new worlds for me as a film fan.
-You know what sucked? Getting lost. Thank you MapQuest and GoogleMaps.
-There's this website. Wikipedia. With everything, ever, on it. Aside from lesser-known works by various bands. But nonetheless, if you want to know what something is, you just type it in. How incredible is that? I remember being made fun of as a 6th grader because I didn't know what some slangy sexual term meant and I had no way to find out. That's a thing of the past.

And that's just a few things. What about finding restaurants upon moving to a new place? Or having a forum (this one :D) to debate movies with people who can actually compare La Strada and La Dolce Vita? I may read fewer novels with the internet always nearby, but in terms of sheer writing I read more. So you all may be nostalgic for the age when there was less information, but I love every minute of it


It's not so much the information I have a problem with. Information, like technology, is neutral. An interesting question would be that, despite having access to so much more information, are we really as a society better informed or smarter? I wonder.

At any rate, my real issue is with the insular and intolerant culture that has grown up around the age of information. In general, people are far more polarized in their views than at any time I can remember. It used to be that someone could espouse a position and those in the "other camp," would listen and then voice a contradictory opinion. Now, people only want to listen to voices singing the same chorus.

If I was going to pigeonhole myself politically, I'm closest to a Libertarian. I occasionally listen to conservative pundits (Limbaugh, O'Brien) and liberal ones (Olbermann, Maddow) because I want to hear the positions. Doesn't matter to me if I agree with them. The guy I listen to the most frequently is Michael Smerconish because he is a moderate. I don't agree with him 100% but he is less strident than most anyone else in talk radio and believes everyone should have a voice.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:14 am
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