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Philosophy Social

Wish I Were Here

Boredom and the Interface

by (author) Mark Kingwell

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2019
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
    List Price

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Are you bored of the endless scroll of your social media feed? Do you swipe left before considering the human being whose face you just summarily rejected? Do you skim articles on your screen in search of intellectual stimulation that never arrives? If so, this book is the philosophical lifeline you have been waiting for. Offering a timely meditation on the profound effects of constant immersion in technology, also known as the Interface, Wish I Were Here draws on philosophical analysis of boredom and happiness to examine the pressing issues of screen addiction and the lure of online outrage. Without moralizing, Mark Kingwell takes seriously the possibility that current conditions of life and connection are creating hollowed-out human selves, divorced from their own external world. While scrolling, swiping, and clicking suggest purposeful action, such as choosing and connecting with others, Kingwell argues that repeated flicks of the finger provide merely the shadow of meaning, by reducing us to scattered data fragments, Twitter feeds, Instagram posts, shopping preferences, and text trends captured by algorithms. Written in accessible language that references both classical philosophers and contemporary critics, Wish I Were Here turns to philosophy for a cure to the widespread unease that something is amiss in modern waking life.

About the author


Mark Kingwell is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author of eleven books of political and cultural theory, including most recently, Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City (2008) and Opening Gambits: Essays on Art and Philosophy (2008). He is the recipient of the Spitz Prize in political theory, National Magazine Awards for both essays and columns, and in 2000 was awarded an honorary DFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design for contributions to theory and criticism.

Patrick Turmel is an assistant professor of philosophy at Université Laval. His main research interests are in moral and political philosophy. He has published articles in ethics and on issues pertaining to cities and justice. He is also co-editor of Penser les institutions (Presses de l’Université Laval).


Mark Kingwell's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Addicted to your screens? Constantly scrolling in search of elusive mental stimulation or happiness? The University of Toronto philosophy professor and prolific author offers an antidote to our constant immersion in technology." The Globe & Mail

"Wish I Were Here showcases Kingwell's renowned wit and style, and the book serves as an excellent read for anyone interested in philosophy, communication, or politics." Canadian Journal of Communication

"Kingwell constructs a vibrant argument with deep stakes. If we do not address our neoliberal boredom, including through regulating the Interface, we risk forfeiting selfhood and our sense of purpose. 'We can truly find ourselves again in boredom,' Kingwell writes. 'We can discover what we temporarily lost, that is, knowing what to do with ourselves.'" The Brooklyn Rail

"Kingwell examines the sources and effects of boredom to highlight how we might create conditions for a richer and more meaningful life. Replete with subtle distinctions and arguments and references to literature, philosophy, and current events, this short book is nevertheless written in accessible, jargon-free language. Recommended." Choice

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