The Space of Boredom

What is the value of boredom? Is it a negative value? Positive?
What is the value of work? Is it a negative value? Positive?
What is 'worth doing'? What is meaningful work?
There's a relationship between work, boredom and leisure, let's talk about how our society values these, and the proportion in which we practice them. Also, maybe we can talk about their value to us, personally.



The Space of Boredom
Within a global marketplace that continuously operates at a manic pace, such empty time can be profoundly alienating — a condition inflicted on marginalized persons who can’t keep up, as Bruce O’Neill describes in his book, The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order. O’Neill’s book studies homeless communities in Bucharest, where, two decades after the fall of communism, prosperity has eluded most Romanians, excluding many from the capitalist sociality of consumption and production.

In The Space of Boredom Bruce O'Neill explores how people cast aside by globalism deal with an intractable symptom of downward mobility: an unshakeable and immense boredom. Focusing on Bucharest, Romania, where the 2008 financial crisis compounded the failures of the postsocialist state to deliver on the promises of liberalism, O'Neill shows how the city's homeless are unable to fully participate in a society that is increasingly organized around practices of consumption. Without a job to work, a home to make, or money to spend, the homeless—who include pensioners abandoned by their families and the state—struggle daily with the slow deterioration of their lives. O'Neill moves between homeless shelters and squatter camps, black labor markets and transit stations, detailing the lives of men and women who manage boredom by seeking stimulation, from conversation and coffee to sex in public restrooms or going to the mall or IKEA. Showing how boredom correlates with the downward mobility of Bucharest's homeless, O'Neill theorizes boredom as an enduring affect of globalization in order to provide a foundation from which to rethink the politics of alienation and displacement


Again with the UBI
Adding the UBI to this, however, means that people can opt out of doing productive work, which gets us back to the problem of the UBI acting as a prize floor.
Only if you see basic survival as a prize. I see it as a human right. The truth is nobody wants to live on $12K a year. It sucks. I’ve done it many times while investing in starting my filmmaking career. The point is that living on $12K a year is possible, and if it’s universally guaranteed, dependable, and unbureaucratic (just requires uniform direct deposits), then every single human being is suddenly guaranteed survival. This is fantastic, societally, because many are falling short of even that basic survival right now, and many more fear that one unlucky break could put them there as well. But individually, almost nobody is going to want to stop there. People want to have comfort, and they want to have experiences. They want to matter and contribute. They won’t want to just go and live off of their UBI, staring at the wall for however long they live in a crappy apartment eating crappy food. Would you?
With a UBI, especially since it isn’t lost when someone takes new work, there is nothing but support and incentive to take new work. Working can’t hurt you (like when someone loses their food stamps for taking an unreliable job), and so with UBI there is no poverty trap. When you’re already standing on a UBI floor, working can only elevate you. That makes work incredibly appealing.
If UBI were $40K/year, I’d also be worried that it could act like a prize floor and disincentivize meaningful contribution to and participation in society. But it isn’t. It’s $12K, which is just enough to get off the street, to stay fed, and to think more clearly about how you want to make your mark in this world.


Things Worth Doing
It seems to me that you assume that either there are not enough things worth doing in society or government will not be able/willing to identify those tasks, train people, and put them to work addressing them.
I do not assume that there will not be enough things worth doing. I assume that they may find no market under a Job Guarantee. This includes things like taking care of children and sick parents, starting a business, pursuing school or art, volunteering, activism, etc. or just any valuable job the increasingly swamped bureaucrats haven’t accounted for and the regular labor market does not value. I also assume that that meaningful work may take forms we haven’t yet conceived of in this rapidly changing world.


Business as moral laziness?
So why do we choose busyness? Prof. Hindmarsh says that too often we make it a “statement of self-importance.” We use busyness as a way of telling ourselves and, maybe more importantly, others how essential we are. Busyness is a way of posturing our significance. Ouch. I’ve done this.
But a more serious issue is that we choose busyness as a way to avoid having to make harder, sometimes more costly choices (which is why Tony Reinke calls it “lazy busy”). Busyness can easily be an escape. It provides a convenient way to opt-out of wrestling through ambiguity to make a difficult, complex decision that we will be responsible for. It’s much easier to be the victim of circumstances than to be responsible for a mistake. And an overflowing schedule can become a shield protecting us from the unpredictable, inconvenient, time-consuming needs of other people. It’s an effective cover. Who can argue with you if you have too many things to do?


The Wikipedia article on “Work ethic” was unexpectedly philosophical
"He who does not work, neither shall he eat" – Soviet poster issued in Uzbekistan, 1920

Work ethic is a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities. It is about prioritizing work and putting it in the center of life.

Factors of a good work ethic
Proponents of a strong work ethic consider it to be vital for achieving goals, that it gives strength to their orientation and the right mindset. A work ethic is a set of moral principles a person uses in their job. People who possess a strong work ethic embody certain principles that guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and the output motivates them to stay on track. A good work ethic fuels an individual's needs and goals, it is related to the initiative by a person for the objectives. It is considered as a source of self respect, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Factors are:
1 Goal-oriented actions: it is not about making plans or the next logical steps; it's about getting things done so that the work invested wouldn't be counter-productive.
2 Prioritized focus: focusing on qualitative activities that a person is capable and in areas where they can make a difference or a high impact based on objectives.
3 Being available and reliable: spending time on the work and building oneself up for the task.
4 Conscientiousness: a desire to do a task well, being vigilant and organized.
5 Creating a rewarding routine/system: Engaging in tasks that provide strength and energy which can be transferred to your ultimate goals, creating a habit and a habitat for success.
6 Embracing positivism: shape a problem with the statement "good, (action) (problem)", e.g. "I'm tired and it is time for a workout" leads to "Good. Workout tired".
A negative work ethic is a behavior of a single individual or a group that has led to a systematic lack of productivity, reliability, accountability and a growing sphere of unprofessional/unhealthy relationships (e.g., power politics, lack of social skills, etc.).

Assumptions
Assumptions about good work ethic is drawn out in philosophical writings of Goldman, they are:[6]
1 The path to what you want is to take action.
2 The success of action plans depend upon how congruent one's worldview is with the society's.
3 Many problems faced are only a temporary breakdown of self management.
4 Setting time limits for achieving goals helps to overcome the edge of discomforts that time can have on subjective needs.
5 A positive problem-solving or goal attainment experience improves one's ability to cope with the next difficulty.
6 Hardships in life is a normality, they become a problem when they are the same over and over.
7 A person is what s/he does, and feelings flow from behavior.
8 Feelings can be viewed as beliefs about one's wants.
In the 1970s a good work ethic was considered as a lifestyle to meet unmet or unsatisfied wants by people.

Capitalist view
(See also: Protestant work ethic)
Steven Malanga refers to "what was once understood as the work ethic—not just hard work but also a set of accompanying virtues, whose crucial role in the development and sustaining of free markets too few now recall".

Max Weber quotes the ethical writings of Benjamin Franklin:
Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.
Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.
Weber notes that this is not a philosophy of mere greed, but a statement laden with moral language. It is in effect an ethical response to the natural desire for hedonic reward, a statement of the value of delayed gratification to achieve self-actualization. Franklin claims that Bible readings revealed to him the usefulness of virtue. Indeed, this reflects the then christian search for ethic for living and the struggle to make a living.

Experimental studies have shown that people with fair work ethic are able to tolerate tedious jobs with equitable monetary rewards and benefits, they are highly critical, have a tendency for workaholism and a negative relation with leisure activity concepts. They valued meritocracy and egalitarianism.

In the 1940s work ethic was considered very important, nonconformist ideals were dealt autocratically. Suppression of humor in the workplace was one of them. It is recorded that at the Ford Company a worker John Gallo was fired for being "caught in the act of smiling".

Anti-capitalist view
Countercultural groups and communities have challenged these values in recent decades.

The French Leftist philosopher André Gorz (1923–2007) wrote:
"The work ethic has become obsolete. It is no longer true that producing more means working more, or that producing more will lead to a better way of life. The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet-unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less. This is especially true as regards our needs for air, water, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact.

Neither is it true any longer that the more each individual works, the better off everyone will be. In a post-industrial society, not everyone has to work hard in order to survive, though may be forced to anyway due to the economic system. The present crisis has stimulated technological change of an unprecedented scale and speed: 'the micro-chip revolution'. The object and indeed the effect of this revolution has been to make rapidly increasing savings in labour, in the industrial, administrative and service sectors. Increasing production is secured in these sectors by decreasing amounts of labour. As a result, the social process of production no longer needs everyone to work in it on a full-time basis. The work ethic ceases to be viable in such a situation and workbased society is thrown into crisis."

Anti-capitalists believe that the concept of "hard work" is meant by capitalists to delude the working class into becoming loyal servants to the elite, and that working hard, in itself, is not automatically an honorable thing, but only a means to creating more wealth for the people at the top of the economic pyramid. In the Soviet Union, the regime portrayed work ethic as an ideal to strive for.

The recession is a contributing factor that holds back work ethic, because the generation that inherits economic decline lives in an economy that isn’t ready to receive them. Without work there to do, the ethic that is attached to it fails to generate distinctive value. The negative work ethic and power structures that doesn't value or credit work done or unethically attribute work done as a service or with higher moral ideals have dissolved the ethic presented in the society and turned the focus onto self-centered perks and individualism. Further, urbanization and an emphasis on large-scale businesses has led to eliminating avenues for learning vital concepts about work. Millennials in a research identified what made them unique was consumerist trends like technology use, music/pop culture, liberal/tolerant beliefs, clothes, and individualistic ones like greater intelligence than work, they were not able to distinguish the concept in the traditional understandings of work ethic.[14]