Young people in Essex are being encouraged to submit their experiences of boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How has Essex experienced lockdown boredom?
The Boredom Project is a collaboration between Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Chelmsford Museum’s Chelmsford Creatives network, and the British Science Association, and they are wanting contributions from members of the public for a special publication.
The zine will cover all aspects of boredom, and anyone from Essex aged 15-24 is invited to share their experiences through a range of media, including poetry, photography, paintings, short stories, calls-to-action, doodles, playlists – in fact pretty much anything that can be put onto paper.
The British Science Association initially linked up with Chelmsford Creatives to plan a series of events around the British Science Festival, which was due to be hosted by ARU in Chelmsford next month. With the British Science Festival postponed until September 2021 due to COVID-19, they started discussing other ideas. This led to The Boredom Project, which began as a series of online workshops.
Dr Tina Kendall, Principal Lecturer in Film & Media at ARU, specialises in studying boredom across social media, TV and streaming services. She researches topics ranging from boredom-related social media hashtags to what she calls ‘boredom-on-demand’, which is the rise of video content such as Slow TV and Napflix.
Dr Kendall said: “In the context of the pandemic, boredom quickly emerged as an issue. Many worried about the mental health implications of having so much unstructured time at home, and health and social organisations started providing guidance to help people cope with boredom during lockdown. At the same time, new boredom-themed hashtags such as #boredinthehouse, #boredinlockdown, and #boredvibeschallenge began to trend, as people began to create posts responding to their experiences of lockdown.
“Giving members of Chelmsford Creatives the chance to reflect on what boredom means has brought forward many unique and interesting perspectives. For some, boredom has been one of the most difficult parts of lockdown but for others, the experience of boredom in lockdown has brought benefits, prompting them to change their habits or giving them more time for creativity or self-reflection.
“We have also discussed how, in the context of the lockdown, boredom is a privilege that frontline and other essential workers have not necessarily had. Overall, we’ve been trying to think about how all of these experiences reflect the full complexity of boredom.
In a recent blog post about the project, Pat Lok, a member of Chelmsford Creatives and a Medical student at ARU, said: “A series of workshops, reflections and online research sessions into people's interpretations of boredom have brought in some refreshing insights within our group.
“Generally, 'boredom' has negative connotations attached to it, with a lot of my peers seeing it as the cause for the lack of motivation, productivity and low mood. However, a few of us regarded boredom as an opportunity – to slow down, practice mindfulness or try out new creative projects, which has in some ways been positive for our physical and mental health.”
The next stage of The Boredom Project involves a collaboration with Essex zine artist Lu, and is open to anyone in Essex, aged 15-24. The organisers are looking for a variety of media, including poetry, art, photography, painting, short stories, non-fiction, and comics.
Submissions on the theme of boredom should be emailed to email@example.com by Monday 10 August, including your name, age and town. The published zine will be available for free, in print and online.
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