Reflections of Ennui

IMG_3263There are moments in our lives when we feel listless. That moment when you complete one task but you have no clue what comes next. Fear strikes and it cripples you to the core, disregarding all those elegantly constructed barriers.

Is it ennui? Maybe. What does ennui have to do with loneliness? Everything and nothing. But first. What is ennui?

Ennui is a wonderful sounding French word meaning trouble or boredom. The literary world has appropriated the term to illustrate the fear of quiet, unoccupied time. It asks the question, “What happens when all external input stops?”. Ennui is perpetual boredom. No matter how much we are occupied it is never enough.

In my last post, Island Wilderness, I discussed how social media contains so much information and that the lives seen there appear to be carefully crafted moments of one excitement after another. Our real life is one fail after another in comparison.

IMG_3249Enter ennui. We struggle to keep up with what we see. From one perspective, it is pure, unadulterated curiosity. Information overload is the cure (and cause) of ennui. Like an addiction, the more we see, the more we want, the more we need. More. More. More. I need more! Now!


Breathe in. Breathe out.

It’s a vicious cycle. As a cultural ambassador, I find it necessary to stay informed about my native culture. I want to remain knowledgeable about what’s happening at home so I can share and discuss, as well as to keep reverse culture shock to a minimum when I return. On the same note, I find myself more interested in local lore, history, language, and news. Which means that I’ve essentially doubled my information intake.

It’s only recently that I’ve realized this. For a long time I’ve noticed an increase in mental exhaustion and eye strain so I decided to learn more. (See, vicious cycle.) Turns out there is a bunch of science and a blathering of opinion, mine now among them, and far too many facets to ever examine the larger issue. There is just too much information.

And that is the issue. Too much. I’m contributing. You’re contributing. More people every day add to the existing pool of information. At this point it can only grow, which is neither good nor bad – it just is.

IMG_3263I’m of the mind that thinks humans are infinitely adaptable, and it is our greatest virtue. So I guess that means our information capacity will have to increase. But when will it stop? When does that information turn into knowledge and wisdom?

It’s too much. My brain is about to explode. But it won’t. I know it won’t because I will adapt, I must, we all must.

I resolve to face ennui head on and use it to my advantage. Information is wonderful but knowledge and wisdom is the goal. For that to happen, we need to create the time to reflect, to process. To transform that information into knowledge, and hopefully one day, wisdom.


About Matthew J. Durocher

Matthew Durocher is a graduate of Michigan Tech University. He acquired his BA in English along with a minor in Music Composition and a certificate in Writing in Spring 2012. His style is one of passion and musicality. One foot is firmly rooted in tradition while the other slides dangerously close to the clouds.
This entry was posted in Culture Shock, Language, Reflection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Reflections of Ennui

  1. Jessica says:

    I like Anne’s comment. Meaning and the ability to be free come to me at the strangest, most unexpected times. It is then that I forget ennui and the island wilderness.

    Or perhaps that’s when I’m most in it? And the lovely thing–I don’t care.

  2. Yes, relection is good. Also remember to take time to just live. Do things you enjoy doing, with people you enjoy. The rest takes care of itself.

    • I agree. Living is a great thing! Two of my most favorite things are food and good communication. I think things are working out. I have a strange love/hate affair with ennui that I keep trying to maintain balance in. Perhaps part of that balance can be found in your suggestion. Thanks for the insight. I wish you a day filled with engagement and relaxation.

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