My husband pointed out something disturbing to me one day. He was watching me swipe away on my phone. Within a matter of seconds, my facial expressions were switching from smirking to smiling, raised eyebrows to be on the verge of tears.
Whatever medley of content I was looking at, it was passing through me and leaving something behind.
You know that iconic scene from A Clockwork Orange? Alex’s aversion therapy. He is administered a combination of nausea-inducing drugs and audio-visual stimulation, to associate violence with feelings of illness — to cure him of his rapist and murderous urges.
Torture by footage is a cinematic cliché. We, the audience, watch the character in the movie become exposed to quick cuts of chaotic imagery. This will break him or change him.
This type of montage sequence can also show someone taking a crash course on human history. Throw in a couple of nuclear blasts, starving children, and trees falling, you have a perfect soup of all that’s sinister about our species. Whoever’s watching that (chimpanzees that are being experimented on? a child robot?) can hardly be in their healthy mind.
That’s me. Daily. No one ties me to a chair, nor fixates my eyes open. In fact, my ophthalmologist has to remind me to blink when I’m binging on screens. I put myself through montage torture, regularly.
On a good day, I go online expecting to come out saying “I know kung fu.” But then I come across cute puppies and spend minutes forwarding them to people, or worse, some animal cruelty exposé gets me sobbing and commenting hysterically everywhere on the Internet.
It’s not just the substance. It’s the sheer amount of what I consume: A lot.
Why? Because it’s free? Or cheap?
Is it really?
How many hours of subjecting myself to blue light will be like drinking 4 liters of coke everyday?
What am I catching through my eyes?
Anxiety disorder, (manic?) depression, maybe even bipolar disorder? All of the above?
Who cares about my diagnosis? I know my symptoms. Besides, everyone is feeling this way. Right?
Yup. Frequent mood swings are the fast fashion now. “Me, also me” memes embrace the modern individual’s ability to contain opposing sentiments. We all mirror and echo each other.
The white noise confirms my truth. None of my ideas will ever be different than anyone else’s. Telling the same story differently is the best I can do. A bar, low.
I flow between deep empathy with the rest of the world and a strong desire for complete isolation away from my present condition.
I go to bed, my ears ringing, my brain tingling. Fattened with poorly digested, fragmented pieces of information. Will I at least make an expensive delicacy? Like foie gras? Enjoyed post-cruelty.
Am I in some kind of group (aversion) therapy?
Doctor, what will you prescribe me?