Letters to the Editor, October 29, 2017

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 10:48am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 10:48am

Boredom can make a person more creative

This is in response to your article suggesting that boredom is bad for health (“From Bored to Worse”, October 17), and should be avoided with the help of “meaningful” activities such as wine-tasting and, less bourgeois, volunteering.

We would like to balance this view by reminding your readers that the emotion is in itself neutral. Boredom is neither good nor bad. The cited studies that show boredom’s negative outcomes did not establish causality; they can’t claim that boredom causes health problems. And, in most cases, they were on “boredom proneness” and not “boredom” as a transient emotion per se.

That is, the findings are about those who are prone to feel bored frequently, across many contexts.

Boredom doesn’t harm you but habitually running away from it may.

Boredom can be beneficial. Like all emotions, boredom is an important signal to us about our relationship with our environment and our needs.

Boredom is also a powerful motivator. It prompts us to identify and pursue a new goal when the current one is no longer satisfying. It can also motivate us to reappraise the task at hand and change the way we relate to it.

We can modulate how we respond to that aversive feeling by approaching it (for instance, engage in reflection or even just daydream) or avoiding it (check the latest newsfeed). The key is to do it in a flexible way, not in a knee-jerk attempt to rid oneself of the feeling every time it arises.

We cannot live a life void of mundane activities. Suggesting that people should seek to minimise their moments of boredom sets unrealistic expectations.

Rather, in this age of “fear of missing out”, accepting that one can feel bored from time to time, and remember that not all activities must be gratifying and meaningful, is perhaps a better recommendation.

Christian Chan, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, HKU

Let children play with the toys they like

I refer to the debate over whether babies should be given gender-neutral toys to prevent stereotypes from being formed at an early age.

Poker and puzzle sets, and building blocks are held up as examples of “gender-neutral” toys. These simple toys can let children develop their own personal characteristics.

Moreover, many people think gender has nothing to do with a child’s choice of toys.

US discount retailer Target did away a few years ago with the “boys” and “girls” label for toys, replacing them with classification by category. Parents can also do the same.

Let children explore their own interests, with nothing ­labelled as boyish or girlish. Safe and enjoyable modes of play are more important, and can have a positive impact on personality development. Giving children enough freedom to play is more important than analysing their choices. Children like to try new things: let them explore. They grow in this way.

However, we should prevent cases like that of a boy who was always dressed up like a girl and finally began to wonder if he was indeed a girl. Such deliberately confusing upbringing could ­affect the values and orientation of children.

Mei Lam Deng, Tseung Kwan O

‘Naked sushi’ has no place in modern society

I refer to your report on the Hong Kong “naked sushi” event being cancelled after an online backlash. I believe this event would have cast a shadow over Hong Kong’s international image.

Presenting food on a partially clothed female body may be ­interpreted as sexual assault. A performer in such an event throws off their robe and lies on a table wearing only nipple covers and thong underwear. This is sexualisation and objectification at its worst. No one can guarantee that participants will not behave offensively towards these performers. This is even more serious when you consider that the women often cannot speak up as they can’t afford to lose their job.

“Naked sushi” events objectify and insult women. There is no place in our modern society for such events, where participants use their money and power to purchase performers’ bodies and use them as food containers.

These events are among the issues that need to be addressed when talking about the violation of women’s rights and dignity.

I sincerely hope all people in Hong Kong, ­regardless of their gender, will make an effort to support and respect the rights of women.

Cindy Lam Yuk Yam, Kwai Chung

Why the fate of butterflies matters for city

Insects, although abhorred by many, are essential to our existence and their decline must be halted. We should heed the warning from Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University: “If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.” (“Shocked scientists fear ‘Armageddon’ over insect decline”, October 20).

That very rare butterflies have been found in Tai Lam Country Park should immediately put a stop to building on its fringes. Tai Lam should remain unpolluted by urbanisation and intact for future generations to enjoy (“Butterfly find provides ammunition against flats plan”, October 20).

Why is the Housing Society still considering building there? Why can’t common sense prevail? When the search for public housing clashes with the need to preserve a valuable ecological site, there should be no question about building elsewhere.

Our chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, is asking us to choose between developing on the fringes of country parks or land reclamation, when options such as developing brownfield sites have not yet been offered as an alternative.

Green Power’s findings need to be acted upon. Butterfly numbers in Hong Kong are already dropping due to village houses and car parks encroaching on their natural habitat. Developers in Hong Kong willingly wipe out our biodiversity in the name of progress. We need to avoid an ecological Armageddon, not contribute towards it. In the thought-provoking words of ­author John Marsden: “We kill all the caterpillars, then complain there are no butterflies.”

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin