River Country Journal
Celebrating and Nurturing Life in Southwest Michigan's River Country

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August 14, 2010

SNOOK’S NOOK BLOG: The perils of overstimulation and the value of boredom

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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For some time now I’ve had misgivings about the seemingly increasing speed of life – split-second images on television and in movies, rapid-fire speech, the intensity and often violent nature of video games, the proliferation of cell phones, the propensity for ‘texting,’ and the relentless and overwhelming bombardment of information that comes at us from so many directions.

Perhaps my unease comes from getting older – I’m 63 now – and one of my favorite books is Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson (1961-2006) and Joseph Bailey.  But I suspect that’s not the only explanation.  And George F. Will’s latest column in Newsweek suggests that there’s merit to the concerns I’ve felt, but not been able to articulate very well.

Will handles the task quite well in his commentary that refers to writing by Adam J. Cox in The New Atlantis.  He identifies Cox as “a clinical psychologist worried about the effect of today’s cornucopia of electronic stimuli on the cognition of young boys.” And Will talks about the downside of continuous stimulation and the value of boredom.

Let me encourage you to take a few moments from your busy day to check out Will’s column, something you can do ‘online’ by clicking on the following link:  Lost in Electronica – The costs of ‘the chaos of constant connection.’

If you’d like to pursue the thinking of Adam J. Cox in The New Atlantis, use this link:  The Case for Boredom – Stimulation, Civility, and Modern Boyhood.

And, if you’d like to share your thoughts on this topic with other River Country Journal readers, feel free to use the ‘Leave a Reply’ box at the bottom of this page.

Bruce Snook
River Country Journal


  1. Thank you for your insightful comments on the perils of overstimulation. A few years ago as I was evaluating and reevaluating and reevaluating the direction of my life, I came across a book entitled “A Pace of Grace: The Virtue of a Sustainable Life” by Linda Kavelin Popov. I have tried to reorient my life to a pace where I might even recognize grace when it looks me in the eye and at times when it is ever so subtle.

  2. Peggy,

    Thanks for your comments and your reference to the book by Linda Kavelin Popov. I located the website associated with the book – http://www.paceofgrace.net/ – and look forward to exploring it further. I can see how the book has been helpful to you – as ‘Slowing Down to the Speed of Life’ has been to me.

    Thanks, again, for writing – and best wishes!

    Bruce Snook
    River Country Journal

  3. Nancy

    On a more lighthearted note, the discussion about the potential risks of human “overstimulation” with the advent of our hyperactive cyber/techno lifestyles makes me think of another focus for the use of this term.

    I recently learned that “overstimulation” can happen when petting a cat who seemingly enjoys the contact i.e. the stimulation for just so long and then when the point of overstimulation or to use another newly coined term “the tipping point” occurs, watch out! That once, happily purring, contented kitty turns into a mean, biting, scratching machine!

    So, hmmmmmmm, I wonder….

  4. mryan

    Thanks for the articles. As I said at our reunion, my experience during over 35 years in the education field from elementary through undergraduate and graduate teaching and administration leads me to believe that “gadgets,” especially video games, are some of the worst detriments to a healthy society for our young people and other, older people who resist growing up. Children are less sociable, less manageable, and less civil because they spend their time playing stupid and mindless games rather than reading, interacting with others, and, yes, being bored and contemplating. As an educator when I talked to parents about this, it was dismissed as harmless and an over-reaction. We’ll see.

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