I am addicted to Friends. Actually I’m rewatching after 20 years (or nearly 20 years). The reasons I love it are numerous. I want a group of friends like that. They stay friends after disagreements. They are there for one another. They hardly ever have to work so they can sit around and chat in the middle of the day, yet still keep their marvelous apartments. They’re funny. Damn they are so funny. Especially Joey. Luckily with the computer I can pause while I get over laughing so I don’t miss anything.
They also don’t have cell phones that they stare at the whole time they’re with one another. Either stare at or react to when they beep. I have a friend with whom I really love getting together. We hardly ever do because she lives an hour and a half away and even when we lived closer to one another we didn’t see each other much. I call her about work questions or to check on her family and we will have great conversations. However, we don’t see one another in person often, and when we do she’s always at the phone.
I am quite aware that these devices were designed to do this. They are like little packages of cocaine for the brain. Dopamine hit. Dopamine hit. Dopamine hit. (See Stolen Focus by Johann Hari, and The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, & Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté and Daniel Maté for the research behind this assertion).
It is so distracting sitting with someone who is distracted.
“I met a really great guy who is kind and rides horses…”
She reaches out and grabs her phone and looks at it, then starts typing. A few moments later she comes up for air and looks at me. “Where were we?”
“I was just telling you I met a cool guy who…”
“Hey, did you know I won a million dollars in the lottery?”
“I’m going to be in a movie!”
Could this phone BE any more disruptive?
And on and on. It doesn’t matter how compelling (or not) my story is. I’m not enough to overcome the dopamine hits.
So now I have my own dopamine hit. I watch Friends. Lately life has been been something of a struggle so I turn to my not real television friends who are so much better than they used to be because I don’t have to wait for commercials or watch the intro. Next episode. Skip intro. I know exactly where to put my mouse and I’m ON it. I barely hear the music and that intro is gone. Plus being with my screen friends is so much better than staring at a phone.
I might be watching it too much. Last night (or early this morning) I had a dream. Jennifer Aniston was in it. She was at a store I was at and was going to use the restroom. I watched her as she walked toward the restroom door, her hair swinging as she walked (because you know, she looked exactly like she did 20 years ago). I thought to myself that it was so weird to see her in person after seeing her face (and hair) all the time on Friends and she doesn’t even know me. It was surreal, this dream meets reality moment.
Maybe I should get my addicted-to-her-phone friend into watching Friends again, then when her phone goes BING she can think it’s Chandler and turn on the computer and watch that instead of the phone, and she can dream about one of the characters and have a moment where she realizes it is weird that she sees this person all the time who never sees her.
It could work.