Spontaneous and Solicited Boredom inside a Prison
Without getting into the morality or veracity of how prisons are being run or operated and whether or not they are within our legitimately statutory or constitutional guidelines in reference to human rights and confinement conditions decreed by the courts, it has been widely expressed that under the dehumanizing conditions of prison life, it is reasonable to say that the state of boredom has come to pervade the experience of everyday life inside the penitentiary.
This collective boredom can be the trigger mechanism to spawn not only moments of illicit excitement (as prisons are schools of enhanced criminality as well as a house of repentance) but larger arenas of short-lived crimes committed against boredom itself, but a stimulus for a larger flow or migration of political and cultural rebellion spread out over time sentenced and served.
Thus it is safe to describe this collection of boredom inside a large jail or prison as an institutionalized form of boredom due to ambient beats or tones in relationship to its various sets of rules and cultural behaviors in various levels of societal expectations or innovations.
Every penal system has a brand or culture of its own and fosters daily under the pressure of mental stress, intellectual excitement (thrill seekers or adrenalin junkies) and therefore offers a rebellion of its own at times. Hence, a collective or institutional boredom is an overall form of a human(s) engagement(s) with time, space, rules, criminality and other factors explored to determine what prisoners do when they get bored.
Like out in the streets, institutional boredom can be destructive in nature and needs to be addressed to avoid social disruptions or criminal activities from taking over their efforts to do their time constructively and with some acceptable form of rehabilitative efforts to come out a reformed person.
Anyone who denies that boredom does not impact criminality, violence, property destruction, disturbances or other negative environmental dynamics has not studied the mannerism of those incarcerated for a lengthy amount of time and how they do their time. take into consideration a few other factors to add to the triggers of boredom and you have yourself a collective cause that are the basic foundation of crimes, riots, looting and destruction of property when activated under another reason or pretense.
Boredom can be quickly accelerated into a vested ‘interest’ to participate and cause or create a larger scene. One can invest in the act of incitement by merely shouting encouragement or actually act out with their own activities or engagements demonstrating approval, cohesion and rebellion.
This is how the boredom is quickly and spontaneously spread into an organized or collective effort to exhibit a sense of approval, whatever the cause, grievance or complaint might be at the time of such demonstrations. Even tacit approval, by silence, can bring a collective effort to its peak or climax if the tone and energy afforded and applied matches the wills of those participating.
Encouragement can come in many forms – (chants) talk along, mocking or repeating, laughing and yelling or some other form of human engagement that displays some sort of anthem or affirmation of something e.g. allegiance through a show of cohesiveness and heavy taunting. This is especially true in gangs.
Realistically, through some common or conflicting gang audiences, this method of communicating, may in fact be translated into lyrics, or [rap] songs that represent their moods or ideologies with a pretense or disguise these lyrics are just that, songs, but in reality their mantra for behaviors and claiming or expressing their membership of the gang.
Such collective boredom strategies may be a form of organizing or dis-organizing illicit or unauthorized gatherings while reinstating their presence and body of force and power / control on those present at the time including correctional staff. In a prison setting this could be done even when every individual is locked up in a single cell as they collectively chant or taunt those who oppose them. Thus the freedom to join in these impulses is solicited and inviting a common cause or resistance.
Moreover, such activists or instigators are in reality a symptomatic example of other problems that should not be ignored in everyday existence. Remember that everything in human life exists within the boundaries of buying and selling; a web of exploitative and demeaning activities and behaviors that undermine the security and order of any facility.
By their mere example of behavior, they could trigger or force a demonstration of resistance that threatens the everyday routine of any large jail or prison and if not picked up, could cause apocalyptic consequences. Most people would heed such a warning and alert those in charge something is happening and the place is filled with a banner of subversive activities. A ghost of things to come that is ever present in every penal institution everywhere.
This cultural undercurrent must be observed or detected to avoid a more aggressively animated unexpected uprising. The disregarding of such behaviors allows tension and other stressors to percolate and if it remains unaddressed, it serves as a fuel by creating an incendiary cultural dogma of the group’s desired wishes or demands to be heard or mediated with in order to resolve any undetermined grievances before the place blows up.
One cannot deny that whenever such howling incantations of these type of activities are present, there is in fact a critique that turns out or reveals that boredom or too much leisure time was directly involved in such demonstrations. Hopefully, nobody will say that boredoms are minor details and address such conditions in a timely manner with secondary points of interest to discuss or mediate for resolution.
Boredom is the tool of insurgents. The politics of boredom straddle criminality and excitement. Boredom may be displayed as graffiti, vandalism, fights, theft, sexual assaults and much more. With the agenda of mass incarceration and overpopulated jails and prisons, boredom has emerged as some sort of motive for aggression and a conceptual building block for activism and critique of the environment. This by itself allows boredom to expand into broader social and cultural condition at the whim of the activists or demonstrators.
Keep in mind, revolutions are real or imagined creations for the possibilities to change social and political justice. There is a strong relationship between boredom, revolutions or disruptions and criminality. Having the condition of boredom multiplies exponentially the reasons for incitement, excitement and is implicit in institutionalized worlds like prisons.
Merely based on penitentiary related customs and practices, there is a precarious tradition to destroy or riot whenever conditions are unsatisfactory or when faced with any other pragmatic situation that may need attention.
Boredom as defined inside a large jail or prison could encompass features such as bureaucratic rationalization, too much efficiency, excessive routinization, excessive or insufficient regulation, too much standardization and others familiar to stifle the human engagement to be productive or creative whenever incarcerated for a long period of time.
The more repetitive the environment is, the more boredom is created and thus the population senses no progress and becomes idle and frustrated. In plain English – whenever overcome by the dulling sameness of the day, the more boredom is created.
Here at last is the paradox of boredom and institutionalization – the agency wants regulation and consistency in their programs – the population suffers on sameness and dullness. Thus the challenge is to emerge with some human measures of worth, values and address the quirks of individualities and create some incentive to provide a personal innovation to combat boredom.
Taking into consideration that obedience to rules and regulation is rationalized as success, this process takes away the independence of minds and creates problems for the rulebooks due to misbehaviors and other resistance motives. Therefore, an unusual rise or growth in disciplinary or misconduct is a red flag for potential disruptions within the population.
Success should be measured in defusing or recover a sustainable balance for moderation and at the same time, find things to do in everyday life to counter-point the dullness and make the individual existence meaningful with some kind of approved democratic participation in the construction of their everyday life.
The administration should find a balance between legitimate mental exertions and physical or labor interests inside their facilities eliminating or reducing negative forces that exert hate or discernment, personal discouragement and irrational thinking and emotional disruptions which do not escape and escalate with due time.
Today, public schools serve as rehearsal halls for mental hospitals and jails/prisons emerge as training centers for boredom through the enforcement of a tedium agenda. To repeat this trajectory from schools to prisons is a dangerous path to continue on as it has an emotional buildup that is rarely addressed through constructive means or programs.
Children today are being programmed and orientated into a state of disciplined efficiency. Working assembly lines or fast food franchises are mass-producing instruments of boredom and when re-instituted inside a jail or prison, the process is continued without any freedom for individuality to appear and invigorate the mind and body onto a new path.
One can begin to see how the mechanics of conformity create a schedule of dullness and sameness to a large degree in the everyday life and more so inside a prison. This would be a positive attribute if the population was to remain under some level of mind control or a rigid trained insightful means of behaving but the fact is, in order to prepare them for release, we have to find ways to cut out the rigidities of their sameness and create individuals who may think and behave to conform to society’s rules which are much more liberal and filled with more freedoms than inside the joint.
As an alternative, we must seek an open circle of control rather than the closed circle they [prisoners] have been orientated under and conformed to strict rules while incarcerated. This could be addressed through custody levels as the lower custody levels allow more individuality than the higher more rigid custody levels.
Research shows that boredom creates alienation, estrangement of relationships etc. as their minds are not adequately occupied. It would appear that if there was some change infused into the everyday life the monotony is reduced, and relief is found making it more bearable and creative that may even include some excitement for the lack of a better word.
Delving into the emotional aspect of boredom, we find despair as one fatalistic element as well as resistance. This would be exasperated for those who are mentally ill and contemplate suicide. One can create radicalism through boredom as those who resist boredom seek alternatives that are either constructive or destructive in nature.
Sabotage is another aspect of boredom. The idea to interrupt the normal or sameness experienced daily becomes a challenge to disrupt to interrupt life’s mind-numbing repetition. Researchers argue that boredom is indeed a counter-revolutionary device meaning it might mean a fight against the dehumanizing process of standardization.
The advantage of some traditionally situated individuals who serve in the armed forces is the fact that they may be sparked or stimulated by the chance of war, deployment, combat or anything else that differs from everyday life. Thus life is calculated by situations that produce risks and uncertainties.