Being Bored and Being Boring

If you’re in any kind of communal RP space, chances are good, you’ve dealt with strangers who are interested in playing with your character. The art of striking up roleplay with semi-strangers in a social space is something that builds up over time and it’s a skill. It’s a skill that I realise that I seem to have but also that lots of people around me, I see, don’t necessarily have. I want to impart one simple, small piece of advice in this context, then.

Odds are super good, you’ve either started a conversation with, or had someone else try to start a conversation, with “I’m bored.”

Okay.

Here is a simple little magical trick here: Don’t ever do this.

With this phrase, you are signalling to the other person that you have the least interesting mental state; that you have nothing to talk about yourself, and that by volunteering this, you are asking them to address that. What’s more, because roleplaying spaces tend to be communal and cooperative, people are likely to try to help you out there, to try and bring you in and entertain you.

Me, I don’t. Someone approaches me with ‘I’m bored,’ my immediate response is ‘well, bummer,’ then I stop paying attention to them. Because what they’re asking me to do is entertain them. If I’m ever feeling in the mood to say ‘Well, I’m bored,’ I recognise that that impulse is itself boring, and I’m asking someone else to put up with that and fix it.

There are two alternatives I want to suggest for you: One, approach people and ask them what they are doing. Show interest, and that interest is something you can offer. Ask people questions, see what they’re doing, see what is interesting rather than present what is boring (yourself). The other alternative, is rather than approaching a stranger with a demand – I’m bored, entertain me – you approach them with an offer. Come up with something interesting to do – a small scenario, or a common interaction or a roleplay interaction that let people have a chance to express themselves. Some examples would include asking for directions or dropping something nearby.

The irony is that I understand some of these ideas are functional tools from pickup artists, or people attempting to reconstruct masculinity – the idea is that to be bored is to be boring, so don’t be boring, and always have something to do. But being from a twisted root doesn’t mean the idea is fundamentally bad – there’s value in recognising that other people are not there to entertain you, you are there to create entertainment with one another. Share, don’t demand.

Now, I am going to set aside the possibility that ‘I’m bored’ is a signal. You folks can work out what to do there.

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