The smartphone is an extension of the body. We know when we lose it because we feel empty without it.
“Though its precise dimensions may vary with fashion, a smartphone is fundamentally a sandwich of aluminosilicate glass, polycarbonate and aluminum sized to sit comfortably in the adult hand, and to be operated, if need be, with the thumb only. This requirement constrains the device to a fairly narrow range of shapes and sizes; almost every smartphone on the market at present is a blunt slab, a chamfered or rounded rectangle between eleven and fourteen centimeters tall, and some six to seven wide. These compact dimensions permit the device to live comfortably on or close to the body, which means it will only rarely be misplaced or forgotten, and this in turn is key to its ability to function as a proxy for personal identity, presence and location.”
We worry as a ‘preventative’ — to thwart any future stress. We try to control the situation with a surfeit of possibilities that we mentally prepare for, most of which never occur.
“I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.” — Mark Twain
Anxiety is a thinking problem that rides around the racetrack of uncertainty. It imagines issues that don’t yet exist. Caught in the worry loop, imagining fear stimulates discomfort.
But when a worry becomes a reality we realize how capable we are in dealing with it. We grow more resilient. Once we develop the courage to face our problems, like a lighthouse, we develop the energy to share our experience to console others.
To worry or not to worry, whatever happens, happens.
The forces that bind together meaning aren’t always strong, nor are they credible. Your inner-dialogue is like a bank: the more you put into it, the more it wants to synch patterns between disparate events.
We look at the world through the context of our collected experiences. We choose what sticks around to arm us for the uncertainty that the future brings. Carl Jung once said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” But what if our mind manufactures stories of coincidental events? Imagination tends to hyperbolize reality.
Perhaps there are no gravitational forces; everything is just a game of chance despite our aim to corroborate our beliefs with supposed facts. When we try to find meaning in everything, we often end up with an incomplete picture.
Certainty tries to assert itself as the dream of man. But when we learn to relax our beliefs, we realize that there are only a few items in life that deserve our scarce attention. Everything else should be left to chance.
There’s a still of rhythm to be found in between the cacophony of noises where we decide what we want to hear.
We all want to experience pleasure all the time. But it’s utility is temporary, the dopamine hit comes and goes. Addiction is the attempt to make it last forever. Spinning the social media wheel, again and again, is a prime example of its superficiality.
Happiness, on the other hand, “is long-term, additive and generous.” It’s a state of mind built over time through sustained effort toward true connection and generosity. It’s a deeper emotional investment with zero emphases on cash-value.
We have two choices: the taking of short-term dopamine or the giving of long-term serotonin. We become what we choose.
We are too close to right now, this present, stuck in the maw of anticipation that puts us under stress’s control.
Anxiety is a thinking problem. It grows stronger in our attempt to control it while it tugs at the brain with fright.
We need to give our nerves a day or two to calm down. But what if we’re choking on the seduction of pity? To shut out stray thoughts, we may ask ourselves: What’s the worst that can happen? And so what if it does?
The attempt to control the future is futile, a waste of time. The sooner we realize to yield to indifference we gain all the confidence to dance with the fear that tries to weaken life’s enjoyment.
Take a deep breath, repeat a mantra, and tread lightly.
“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”
That revolutionary new treatment is sleep. Even jellyfish get sluggish when they don’t get enough.
“You break experience up into pieces and you put them together in different combinations, and some are real and some are not, some are documentary, and some are imagined…It takes a pedestrian and literal mind to be worried about which is true and which is not true. It’s all of it not true, and it’s all of it true.”
— Author Walter Stegner in an interview with Richard Etulain
Fact or fiction, our lives are but are an amalgamation of experience and imagination, neither of which explains the factual nature of our origins. Context fence-sits to prove no foreseeable answer, one that needs no seeking anyway.
The above quote is lifted from the afterword in Wallace Stegner’s novel Crossing to Safety, a highly recommended read.
The newest app, the latest iPhone — we make an excuse to spend more time with our smartphones. What can be perceived as self-absorption is also hypnosis, as the phone’s rectangular glow grips us into a ludic loop.
Social networks intend to get us out of a trance and sting us into experiencing the world; at least that’s what Instagram and Pinterest promised to do at their inception. Instead, our phones have our first, second, and third eye, recording memories so we can consume and forget about them again later. We are walking zombies, skilled without an iota of consciousness.
The smartphone is an arsenal of distraction, a computer, tv, stereo, and communications device propping up the thumbs of our hands. But it’s also the most liberating tool we’ve ever had. Used wisely, we can shape it to goad our curiosity, make new friends, and explore our creative instincts.