“When we are kids, we have lots of amazing experiences all the time, but we want stuff. When we are grown up we have plenty of stuff, but we crave new and exciting experiences.”
Candy for Breakfast
I don’t remember who said this, or if it’s even written down the right way, but I remember once reading something like this on Twitter, ironically enough. It really hit me close to home. I remembered how I as a kid had all these super cool moments where I experienced things that were new and almost magical. Going on a field trip could be full of awe and joy. Fishing with my family was a wonderland of fun. Visiting a super market was super exciting! It was like everything was new and shiny and I lived very much in the moment. This was nice and all, but as a kid what I really wanted and what I valued was stuff like candy and toys. Christmas and birthday were truly the two best days every year, and I fantasized of the day when I was a grown up and could buy all the candy in the world. I would have candy as lunch and breakfast, every day for the rest of my life. Here I am, 15 years later, not eating candy for breakfast or spending all my hard earned money on radio controlled cars (well, to be honest I do got a small helicopter, but that’s another story). So what happened, and when do our dreams and what we appreciate change?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. To be fair I have been trying to put down this in text or a drawing so many times lately. All this is like a big mess of thoughts and reasoning, tangled into a lot of stuff. I can’t guarantee this post won’t be a bit messy or hairy, but I’ll try to share something that’s been very important to me lately.
This comic is so smart, on so many levels. Borrowed from Explosm.net
People tell you that when you grow up, it’s part of the process to realize you are not in fact immortal. You also have to deal with realizing that you won’t be a famous rock star or super model or an astronaut or something else you unrealistically dreamed of when you were a kid. We change, and so do our dreams with us. I think that was we grow older and are able to think of our lives as a series of moments in time, we are able to more quickly start feeling like not all experiences are equally fun and fantastic. I’ve been spending a lot of time together with a 1,5 year old boy this summer, and it’s very fascinating to see how he is truly living in the present. He doesn’t really have any grasp of the future beyond a few hours and is able to entertain himself for hours on end by shaking a box of crayons. He is having more fun and exciting moments every day than I have in a week. And I believe this is the way it should be. His brain is still growing and trying to make sense of the chaos that is the everyday world around him. If you have only existed a year on this planet almost everything is guarantied to be new and exciting! Watching him made me think about how I spend my own time. It made me think, like, a lot. I have grown older I have kinda become used to the wonders and amazement of life and this world.
Because I do think that only the fact we are alive on this planet, orbiting a nuclear star in the middle of nowhere in the Universe, is some kind of fucking wonder. The fact that all my ancestors from amoebas to fish to monkeys managed to stay alive for long enough to breed and finally create me is a miracle. I think it’s so creepy is fucking epic that the atoms in my brain ever had the chance to assemble right here, right now, and could write you this post on a computer running on energy created out of nothing in a big explosion billions and billions of years ago! To be alive and breathing is a miracle, maybe the odds are so small for this it’s never possible for my tiny human brain to understand it. I’m not sure about what sounds more creepy; what if are totally alone in the Universe, or if there’s billions like us out there? We just haven’t made contact yet. The price you pay for existing is to die. One day we will all die, and that’s part of life. But I think it’s better to die than to never exist at all. But let’s not make this a depressing one!
I Have A Problem
“We are the first species in history to become ghosts before we die” as a commentator on the TED talk “Life In The Digital Now” writes. He is referring to how people today are more and more like zombies when we are connected to the Internet at all times. When people sit at the bus, they look at their smart phones. When you go to a party where you don’t know most of the people and you become nervous a lot of people start playing with their phone instead of seeking contact. When you are on a vacation you might be so busy updating your Instagram with “feet in front of the pool” photos you might not even have the time to be in the moment, actually enjoying your vacation. Did that photo you posted n FB “only get” five likes, and suddenly you might feel like your great night out maybe wasn’t so great after all?
I’m not saying that technology is always bad and that things were better “back in the days”. The brain has a funny way of making us forget about most of the bad or boring stuff that happened and only let us remember the best parts (or the truly awful traumatic experiences we had). That’s nice, but it also makes us more prone to nostalgia.
I have a problem with how some things seem to be designed and made up just to keep your mental bandwidth occupied. Not to add something to your life, but to keep you just enough entertained or distracted from doing all the things you dream of doing, or helping you procrastinate. As I see it, Internet and the way we are able to access it today is the perfect enabler of procastrinating. It never runs out of content, it’s always there for you and you never have to leave your house to get hold of all that material, it just flows to your fingertips and into your head.
The excellent blog “Wait But Why” have written two great articles on why people procrastinate and what you could do about it.
If you have a difficult and murky task at hand, it’s very easy to start doing other “more important” things if you are a procrastinator. Like surfing FB or reading news online or hanging out on Reddit. Image belongs to Wait But Why.
Information Overload/Filter Failing
One of my friends once said “there is no such thing as information overload, it’s called filter failing”. I think there is an important difference between too much information and not being able to sort out what’s relevant for you, and how you should digest and process it. I believe it’s a bit like today’s problem with junk food. The human body has adopted to a scarcity of food over thousands of years. Now we suddenly have too much food, but our instinct is still to eat all we can, and especially fat and sugary food since it’s packed with energy. But our lifestyles have changed, we (most of us in the Western world) don’t need to fight for food or spend the majority of your time finding something to eat. It’s almost the same thing with information. The brain is almost addicted to information, since being able to process and understand and notice the world around us have made us understand and predict our world. Our brains want information just as our bodies wants as much calories as possible. So how do we know what’s enough, when both food and information is available at all times?
Mind map when trying to grasp what it is that I’m really trying to say about this topic. Had to sensor some work related secret stuff, sry.
I know this is a very complex topic, and I’m not even sure I could make some clear point with this, but hopefully I will be able to follow my train of tough sooner or later. Feel free to comment or discuss if you ever think about this stuff. I have previously tried to summarize some of my thoughts around “always online” and “wasting time online” here & here. I’m not saying technology is bad in itself, but I’m struggling on how to find a good way to use some of it. Too much and it feels like I’m not living a real life, and too little and I feel isolated. Went without FB and Twitter for a week this month, and after a while I almost forgot they even existed.
Anyways, back to thinking more about this in my man-cave, see ya!