These Motherfucking Machines

These motherfucking machines. I am not happy about them one bit. Now, I use my iPhone just as much as anyone. I check my emails and text messages too much. I look on-line when I don’t want to do anything else (which is most of the time). I, like you, have given in to these motherfucking machines.

But I don’t like it.

I think they are bad, real bad for any depth or interestingness our personalities could have once had. I think they are ruining our ability to connect with others in meaningful ways. I think these motherfucking machines are turning us all into even more superficial and unsatisfied monkeys than we were before.

I wish I could fully give in. I wish I could love these motherfucking machines. I really try. But as a result of trying my attention span has been hacked into tiny little pieces. My creative output has dwindled. My sexual relationship with my wife has gone flat. My interest in engaging with others in person is gone. My capacity for handling solitude has been shot. My shopping addiction has gone through the fucking roof. My ability to be engaged while reading a book has disappeared. I love reading books and I can’t even do that anymore because of these mother fucking machines.

What a person does while they are alone determines the amount of depth that they have when with other people. If when a person is alone they are continually checking their phones, what kind of person are they going to be when around other human beings? Frightening thought, but let me tell you. They are going to be boring! There is going to be the absence of any legitimate substance.

Sorry, I wish there was some way around this.

I try and ignore it with my wife. I love her (a bunch) and I want everything to be fine but my wife checks her iPhone all the time. She is always on the fucking thing. She works on the thing. Socializes on the thing. Makes art on the thing. Entertains herself on the thing.  Talks to me and then is right back on the thing. Watches something on TV and is right back on the thing. Takes a shower and is right back on the thing. It is constant but I try to just accept it. It is the way the world is going so you better get in line Randall. But sometimes I pop. Sometimes I lose my shit and say things like:

Is this what we want to become? This couple who is always on their phones? Really? Is this what we want to turn ourselves into? Bored when it is just you and I unless we have a phone to check? Always pulled by this desire or compulsion to check our phones. To refer to our phones for every bit of info we need or interest we have? Is this what we really want to do with our valuable time? I mean we don’t even fuck much anymore. Shouldn’t we be more focused on that than always caught up in digital worlds inside our phones? You have so much potential. So do I but do we really want to be giving it all away just so we can be more in touch with other people? Just so we can check what pic is newest and latest on-line? We are becoming people without depth. You think Father John Misty could check his phone a hundred times a day and do the kind of work he does? Why are we letting oyrselves become like this? I am sick of it. It pisses me off. I know I am just as bad but really you are worse. You are fucking addicted. You need help. I need help. It is going to ruin our entire lives. These fucking machines are turning us into superficial idiots glued to a screen. I just don’t like it no matter how hard I try.

And then I feel bad, even though I meant everything I said. I try and go back to just accepting these motherfucking machines in to my life. I tell myself this is just the way things are now. So I can’t really read a book anymore? Who cares. At least I am in touch and on-line. These motherfucking machines fill the space created by my loneliness, emptiness and laziness but what bothers me is that before these motherfucing machines that space was filled with books, films, creativity, music, solitude, long afternoons wondering around with my head in the clouds and other people. Now its just a continual digital screen.

Again and again.

 

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On Loneliness

I wonder if dogs or cats or birds feel loneliness.

I did not realize until this morning that loneliness is the unpleasant feeling that is eating away at me, especially in the mornings. I have always wondered why I am so unhappy and negative in the mornings. Now I know.

Do I feel lonely in the afternoons or evenings? Is the unpleasant feeling still eating away at me but I am now too distracted to notice? In the mornings my wife is still asleep and everything is quiet. In the afternoons and evenings there is work, texting, email, booze, interactions with other people, television, occasional going out and having fun. I keep busy and maybe this is why I do not feel this lonely feeling as much during afternoons and evenings. Maybe. But when I come home in the evenings or get in bed at night, the feeling usually returns. So I pick up my phone, eat more, turn on the television or read a book.

Is it because of my lonliness that I can be such a jerk in the mornings? Is loneliness the feeling behind all that depresses me?

I wonder if my need to always be reading, listening to music, checking my emails and texts, is all just an attempt to flee from the feeling of loneliness inside me.

Is this deep feeling of loneliness what has been bringing me so down over the years?

Up until a few years ago, I do not remember feeling as depressed as I have recently been. I wonder, if my lonelines continues, will my depression get progressivly worse? Even just writing this makes me want to cry.

For the longest time I did not suspect loneliness. Me lonely? No way. I am married to a beautiful and cheery wife (who spends much too much time on her phone). I have four dogs and a library filled with books. I spend my days working as a psychotherapist and have non-superficial interactions with a lot of people. I lead several very full groups each week. I spend time with my sister and my wife’s parents at least once a week. I have dinner with my own wife almost every single night. With all of this going on, how could I feel lonely?

I always feel isolated inside my own inner world. No one understands or grasps what I go through from day to day. Can anyone understand what we all go through internally from day to day? Isn’t this why we all feel so alone? No other person can ever understand what it feels like to be us. The end result is always loneliness.

But to feel alone when in the presence of other people can be the worst kind of feeling. I hate it. I want to run away from it. I drink to make it go away.

To feel like there is no one who understands you. To feel like there is no one who shares similar values as you do. To feel like there is no one whom you have the same interests as. To not feel like you have stimulating and engaging conversation with anyone. To be together but still feel so alone and disinterested. To be with others but feel so unseen. It has driven many people into a self induced early graves. I believe this is the feeling that caused Kurt Cobain and the wonderful writer Edouard Leve to take their own lives.

I feel so isolated from everyone around me. I try hard to connect but there is nothing there that feeds me. I am usually left starving. I don’t find interesting the banal ideas that populate their minds. Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I am no longer open to take anything that they have to offer me in. Maybe I have shut down. Closed the doors. I feel so uninterested in what these people have to say, that I have stopped listening. I have been so bored by people, I have been so disinterested by other people that I have given up. I have become totally disengaged, thus isolating myself even more. (One main hazard of the psychotherapy trade.)

I engage when I must in order to make money, but am always left feeling flat with nothing left to give. This must be similar to what a prostitute feels when having sex for money and being so unfulfilled by these sexual experiences that he or she loses interest in sex with everyone. It is a terrible situation to be in. One that leaves a person starving inside.

I suppose I write to help fill myself up. Writing as a kind of force feeding. I write because I want to connect with someone. I write because I want someone to understand me. I want to share something in common with someone else. But even writing leaves me feeling empty. I get nothing back and this just exacerbates the loneliness even more. This is why I have started to give up on any kind of literary success.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should turn more to drugs. This is why people use drugs. A person forms a relationship with drugs because it is the only relationships, often, that makes them feel less alone. You can count on drugs to be there for you every time. They can make you feel less lonely inside. I don’t know if I want to do this to my life.

I will keep trying to assuage my loneliness by reading books where I feel something in common with the writer. There are not many writers I feel something in common with since most writers are just trying to make a buck. I only finish books written by writers who write because they want to feel less alone. These are the only writers I am interested in. When I find a writer who feels like a friend I feel better for a bit. But I get sad when I know that many of these writers killed themselves.

I don’t think that smartphones are helping. Sure, I use the internet as a way to feel less alone. I use text and email also as a way to feel less alone. But these interactions often leave me feeling more empty and alone. I also find myself les able to read as much as I would like because I am always reaching for my phone. I also feel more disconnected from other people because they too are combating their loneliness by going on their phones rather than putting effort into things that will make them more engaging and interesting people to spend time with.

Smartphones turn people into unattractive, distracted, bores. I am surrounded by people (including myself) obsessed with their smartphones. We have sold out for the quick fix of shallow communication and connection.

I don’t know what to do. Most of my time is spent alone. Lost in the meanderings of my own brain. I need to be alone in order to feel “better.” When I am with other people but feel alone, I feel terrible. I feel mad. I feel disengaged. I feel like I am wasting time. I would rather be alone with myself. This never feels like a waste of time. But it always hurts.

The Terrible Reader

The pages are too long. The words spread out. The words slip out. The words move through the brain and back out into the nowhere place from which they came. The brain no longer able to retain the words that live in a book. The brain is slipping away into a kind of digitalized maze. Only tidbits of information and pictures are able to stick. A book filled with words is a marathon, which a person is too out of shape to run. The words are a threat to a person’s limp attention span. No longer capable of the longer sprints and solitudes that a book filled with words requires, The Terrible Reader reaches for her phone.

The Terrible Reader is no longer capable of being alone. He needs to know what is going on on-line. He needs to know what texts have come through. He needs to carry on a conversation that was begun on his phone. He needs to find new emails in his inbox. He needs to check who has checked his frequently checked Instagram and Facebook accounts. There are things to do. Likes to be given and had. Comments to be left. Photos to be seen and loved. The terrible reader has no time for a book. A book keeps him off-line. There is no excitement in these printed words.

The Terrible Reader can no longer sit with herself. It is too uncomfortable. Toes curl and uncurl. Nails are bitten. Fingers are picked. Hair is pulled. It is a continual struggle to keep her attention fixed. She feels restless. Anxious. Just sitting there alone with a book is no longer enough stimulation to keep her attention fixed. She tries to hold on with the book in her hand but it is almost painful. There is an antsiness that won’t go away. And when it does, she feels bored. She feels ready for sleep. The Terrible Reader is in a continual struggle between restlessness and sleep. Her attention span can’t keep up with the attention that words in a book demand. Instead she needs the digitally illuminated screen. She needs the fake light to get off. She needs the high-resolution pictures and live time conversations to feel engaged. When The Terrible Reader is on her phone toes do not curl and uncurl. Nails are not bitten. Fingers are not picked. Hair is not pulled. There is no struggle to keep her attention fixed. There is no battle between restlessness and sleep. Her attention is completely transfixed when on the phone. When on-line, her attention span is dialed in. She is immersed. Like particles of dust sucked into a vacuum machine, she is gone.

The Terrible Reader can read books no more. The Terrible Reader still tries to read books but most of them remain unfinished. Worlds only partially explored. These unfinished worlds pile up like dead leaves in the fall. Discarded and no longer needed, they are left to die under the weight of newer books which will also go unfinished. Unexplored. The Terrible Reader is yet to come to terms with the fact that they have become a terrible reader. They do not want to admit this painful fact to themselves so they continually try and read some more. It hurts too much to make an honest appraisal of what they have become, since humans never like to admit the truth about themselves to themselves. Every time The Terrible Reader sits down with a book their smartphone pulls at them. It won’t leave them in peace. Come to me, come to me, check me, see me, it whispers in The Terrible Reader’s ear. For the fifth time in an hour The Terrible Reader puts the book down and must reach for the smartphone. They no longer have a choice.