Activism and... Boredom

IssueFebruary 2009

Activism and boredom? I just wouldn’t connect the two things. Honestly, they are just two unrelated things in my mind.
Activist, male, 40, Milton Keynes

The most boring thing I’ve ever done in connection with activism was making boring phone calls. Making hundreds of phone calls trying to mobilise people to come to an event, using exactly the same words to each person.

Going on big rallies with the same speeches and the same people over and over again (and it’s really cold), that’s really boring.

Demos where there’s no atmosphere and no one makes any noise, that’s also boring. When there’s a buzz about, that creates noise.

I don’t do this, but I guess meetings are boring. Don’t write this down, I’ll sound really stupid, but I don’t really go to meetings any more.

The most boring meeting of my life was drawing up a constitution for the Oxford Palestine Society, a meeting that lasted hours and hours. It felt like what a PLO factional meeting might have felt like.
Activist, 23, London

Boredom isn’t the same thing as depression. Hearing the same speech about the war on terror at my twentieth big London demo isn’t boring, it’s depressing.

Hearing a debate in which people don’t respond to what the other person is saying isn’t boring, it’s depressing.

Boring things aren’t necessarily boring if they’re done with other people. Stuffing envelopes can be sociable and enjoyable.

Boring things are things I have to do by myself. (Though late-night emailing isn’t boring, it’s stressful.) The most boring thing in the world to do with activism – is sitting in a cell, waiting to be released, thinking: “What is the point of this? There is no point to this.” Then thinking: “There is a point to this! … if it’s effective.” Then not knowing whether or not it’s effective, and not being able to think any more.
Activist, 25, London

Have I ever experienced boredom during activism? I don’t think I’ve experienced anything else….

The only thing that kept me sane while doing the last mailout, putting hundreds of stamps on envelopes by myself, was watching the comedian George Carlin while I was doing it. (He used to do a routine about the seven things you couldn’t say on television.)

Activist, 34, Crewkerne

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