what the heck tech
i need rehab from this glowing box
what am i without my phone?
Without my phone and connection to others, I am nothing.
I barely remember the time when I didn't feel so attached to my phone. When I didn't feel like I was missing a functional part of my body when one of my devices hit low battery. When I didn't reach for my phone as a digital pacifier in situations where I had no clue how to interact with other people.
I regularly delete Instagram, Twitter, and Messenger and reinstall them again each time. I exile my mobile apps, only to switch to the browser version where I’d get addicted once again. I grayscale my phone into black and white to make visuals less eye-catching, and make full use of the time limit feature on social media apps to force myself off. I long to strip myself of my unhealthy addiction to overload my brain with information.
But it doesn't work.
Sometimes I think “How did I get to this point? Is this normal?” When I only need to focus on doing the next thing, checking the newest notification, scrolling to the next post in my feed, I don't take a second to reflect so the itty bitty concerns all wash over me and I’m able to feel almost content with what I’m doing. I'm just scrolling through the news, I'm just learning something new on Youtube, I'm just consoling a friend by reading and responding through text bubbles. All of these wash up on my shore of infinite notifications, which I readily absorb with each passing wave.
Is it possible to force a healthy relationship with technology despite its innate nature to unhealthily sap users of their time and energy? Is it reliable for a machine to harness so much meaning to our life, behind each of our connections to others?
technology is a part of my identity
I grew up in the Bay Area, and there I was conditioned to devoutly believe that the power of technology will save the world. I heartily drank the kool aid of Silicon Valley, and most people in my high school applied to computer science degrees even though they didn't know how to code.
I shoved aside any field that didn't have a 6-figure salary because others told me 'I would not be able to make it' otherwise. I naively listened to them, never questioning how much money I'd actually need just to get by. I hadn’t known that later on, I’d pay the hefty cost of sacrificing my mental health in exchange for a job with a high salary.
I decided to go to a school specializing in the computer science department. I interned at a tech company. I had my eyes on a very bright future, from a monetary standpoint. Give up a little bit of passion, and get a lot of money. It'll be easy. Life will be good. And I will be safe.
But I wonder why I'm here trying to chase living a ‘perfect life’ when the world is so imperfect. Why am I being showered with rewards for performing work that requires the same level of effort as a lower-paying field, just because such is in line with our flawed economic system? If the incentives were laid out differently in our system, I’d feel less inclined to take the job that I know, deep down, is not actually adding much value to society. I'd be chasing after my interests outside of my current field, learning and experiencing the world for what it is, rather than optimizing to land a high-paying job.
I don't want to kid myself into treating the tech industry as the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't want to have to convince myself that dragging some boxes and programming generic websites and apps feels fulfilling and that luring an unsuspecting person into being on their phone for longer is acceptable. I want to personally see the ugly sides of the picture and allocate all my efforts towards shifting that direction.
I don't think I'll find my direction in school, where the mindless pursuit of internships and jobs overrides my motive to learn. I want to be honest with myself and happily confused, as I think that’s the starting point from where I will find what direction I most naturally gravitate towards. I often feel like time is slipping through my fingers, when I realize that I’m no ‘closer’ to figuring out what I want to do with my life than four years ago. But I feel like these pressuring worries are counterproductive, as the time of exploration should be savored and taken day-by-day with a sort of child-like curiosity.
This last year, I’ve found solace in pockets of tech-cultural communities and dozens of friends and mentors that have lifted me up, and could not have felt more grateful and fulfilled. I’m really content with the people I surround myself with today, but I still can’t help but wonder – what role should I play in positioning myself tangentially to this large, convoluted machine? Should I start my own communities to counteract this machine? Coerce others into marching at a different pace and angrily write essays about those who aren’t able to see the truth and break free? That doesn’t seem productive either. Am I crazy for trying to pursue some vision that I can’t even wrap my head around?
Maybe the real reason why I’ve been addicted to my phone is because I’m scared of leaving these questions unanswered, and I’m just trying to avoid confronting the reality that I’m confused and lost. Once the rush of dopamine wears off, I reach back for another hit, blocking myself from thinking so I won’t have to face the truth.
what i’ve been up to
i animated a blob fish, thanks to tahnee’s animation advice :D
i’ve started writing a lot more so will be be aiming to post 1-2 times a week now
i spent a full day figuring out how to setup my laptop with my headset and then realized my graphics card isn’t strong enough for a good pcvr experience :c
i’m going to miami tomorrow for a retreat!!
i’m hosting a board game night in LA during LA Tech week next week, rsvp here