The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


November 4, 2013

Are digital gadgets robbing us of our boredom?


Enough, say some parents. Among today’s most prominent is comedian Louis C.K., born Louis Szekely. His five-minute rant against smartphone culture on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in September has received more than 5.7 million hits on YouTube. He appears to have struck a nerve.

“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids,” C.K. said, in explaining why he’ll never let his daughters have iPhones.

One problem that he sees is hijacking of empathy by incessant texting and tweeting in one’s formative years. “Y’know, kids are mean,” C.K. says, “and it’s ‘cause they’re trying it out.” Unfortunately they don’t see the hurt in the faces of those whom they insult by text. When they say “You’re fat,” for example, and see the other “kid’s face scrunch up,” they learn better, says C.K. “But when they write ‘you’re fat’, then they just go, ‘mmm, that was fun, I like that.’ “

Similar arguments are made by such other experts as Stanford sociologist Clifford Nass, who describes Twitter-age teens and tweens as suffering from “emotion atrophy” as a result of insufficient face-to-face “practice in observing and experiencing true emotions.”

C.K.’s rant shifts usefully from conventional Luddite bashing of new technology — and the dangerous idiocy of drivers who text behind the wheel -- into an appreciation of a rare joy in this hectic age, the experience of being bored.

“You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something,” he says. “That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person.”

A similar point is expanded upon by writer-researcher Evgeny Morozov in “Only Disconnect: Two Cheers for Boredom” in the Oct. 28 New Yorker. From a range of social critics over the past century, he resurrects the notion of “radical boredom,” an escape from modern hustle-bustle to “surrender oneself to one’s boredom on the sofa.”

Text Only
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Off and on the record Let us now praise anonymous sources.The new White House press secretary got into a familiar old spat with the White House press corps the other day over the use of anonymous sources.Josh Earnest — has there ever been a more perfectly named White Hous

    July 25, 2014

  • Be more informed

    Blame the city.That is a favorite pastime of many, including me at times. Driving over that pesky pothole or paying that annual property tax bill can lead to some choice words referencing the city. Nobody takes the brunt of being the scapegoat more t

    July 25, 2014

  • CCC thanks community, collaborators for successful movie night Clinton Community College would like to thank those who participated in the free outdoor movie showing of “Captain America – Winter Soldier” on the evening of Friday, July 18.We are grateful to have such wonderful community collaborators in the Erick

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Akin's back again to talk of rape So, Todd Akin is back and he’s talking rape again.You remember what happened last time. The would-be Missouri senator torpedoed his campaign two years ago after suggesting in a TV interview that if a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” she is unl

    July 22, 2014

  • Sadness remains as two-year mark passes in cousins' case As most citizens of the Cedar Valley are well aware, July 13 marked two years since the disappearance of cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey of Evansdale.The passage of time provides some semblance of healing, but the sadness, particul

    July 22, 2014

  • UI needs to keep its admission standards high There’s been a lot of talk lately — most of it coming from the leadership of the Iowa state Board of Regents — about the University of Iowa not being passionate enough about its recruitment of in-state undergraduates. Regent president Bruce Rastetter

    July 21, 2014

  • Vote fraud myths meet voting rights reality Before she was allowed to register and vote for the first time in Franklin County, North Carolina, Rosanell Eaton had to read the entire preamble to the U.S. Constitution out loud in front of three men in the county courthouse.Eaton is black. The thr

    July 21, 2014 1 Story


With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

     View Results