Throughout most of my life I’ve had a fascination with Technology.
As a child, I was always tinkering with things and pondering how they worked. I was able to operate the VCR and was quick to adopt any other technical device that we got.
Moving onto my later years I continued to develop my knowledge of technology through programming because of my interest in Game Development.
The shift however was subtle. With the onset of computers, and ultimately smartphones, we’ve gotten ourselves tied up with devices of infinite possibility.
This has allowed great growth in many areas, but also risky stagnation in others.
All Purpose Means No Purpose
Let’s explore a parallel universe to our own where instead of the “Smart Phone” being invented, we instead invented the “Smart Hammer”.
The Smart Hammer, like the Smart Phone, is a tool of infinite uses. At the base is a sensor that, with concentrated thought, will cause it to transform into whatever you wish it to be.
This hammer takes the world by storm, and people are using them for countless things. It started as just a hammer that also turns into a wrench, but people started using them to make pencils, staplers, drills, umbrellas, anything they needed. The possibilities were endless!
But then people started to catch on that the smart hammer could be used to make toys as well, and people would make them tools for games that they’d play with each other. This was harmless at first, but as the games became more and more complex how you played the game soon could get, or even lose, your livelihood.
The Smart Hammers were crafted into an infinite number of shapes and symbols, and social conventions formed around these hammers. Before long people would struggle to put them down because of the subconscious need to always have the hammer close, to prove that they are playing the game and playing it well.
These hammers were then being used on average about 3 hours per day, with a fraction of that time being used for its intended purpose, as a hammer.
This device takes over peoples lives, even when they try to adapt it for productive things.
The issue is simple: Because it’s capable of nearly anything it’s really easy to get distracted with something other than what you’re trying to do.
Back To Our Reality
With our smart devices and computers it’s easy to move, and move fast.
In the space of 10 minutes we can know what’s happening around the world, send a message to someone without even speaking to them, build tools, and automate our lives.
As a friend of mine put it though, “Don’t confuse movement with progress”.
Just because you’re getting a lot of stuff done on your phone or your computer it doesn’t mean that progress is being made. But how do you know if progress is being made?
This is where having a clear understanding of your desires are so important. These desires are best found away from a screen.
Your Desires Are For Sale
One of the greatest innovations of the digital age is the measurement and direction of the attention of the masses. On a screen your attention is by design directed, nudged, and influenced.
What you pay attention to heavily affects what you desire.
As an example, while I have my youtube addiction mostly under wraps every once and a while I disable my blocker and lose myself in some random videos, mostly on video games.
You see, any gaming I do must somehow relate to a game I’m actually building. This is because I have a desire to produce a game, which is a desire I chose for myself.
Today, I was watching some videos on a game I played years ago called Starmade.
Watching that video about it and all of its updates made me desire to play it again. I even seriously considered spending my weekend playing it. But luckily I pulled myself out of it by reminding myself that I have a game to work on instead which will create a much higher reward.
But that quick, I had my desires decided for me.
In the modern attention economy our desires are sold to the highest bidder, you can even get a slice of the action yourself for as low as $30 from Google or Facebook.
This has allowed for some amazing developments, but the cost of our ability to choose what we desire is high.
This, I argue, is why a paper journal is so important.
You Can’t Be Advertised To In Your Journal
There are countless productivity tools out there, and some of them are actually quite good. But having a digital tool means that they could put in ads or notifications to keep you coming back. Next thing you know you’re spending all of your time managing your projects instead of actually being productive.
In your paper journal, you can’t be advertised to, and you can’t be tempted to tab over to a service that will sell away your desire.
It’s just you and your journal. One of the few safe places to really explore what you desire.
Using your journal to figure this out gives you the lens to view everything else that comes into your life, and give up the desires that aren’t yours in the first place.
In my previous example my desire to create a game and experience the process in doing so is greater than purchasing a game that just popped up out of nowhere.
I just recently put up a new prompt, “Desires that came up”. Using this prompt you can write down things that you want to do, but more importantly reflect on their source.
The Sources Of Your Desires
Where do your desires root from, truly?
Is it from a family members suggestions? Something you saw on T.V.? Something a friend has? Something everyone else has? Something you saw on Facebook?
Or is it something truly intrinsic? Something that after really sitting down and thinking about it made you decide “this would be worth having”.
That’s the difference between shallow and deep desires. Your shallow desires are not intrinsic, and are often influenced upon you instead of creating it from within. The sooner you get rid of your shallow desires the more you can focus on your deeper desires.
In working with paper instead of technology you remove the possibility of being advertised to and getting your desires hijacked. You open up the possibility of your desires truly being your own.
That does it for today’s post. Stay safe, and keep focusing on what truly matters.