I Went to Prison

The cops pulled me over. I knew it was bad, although I didn’t know exactly what I did. It was dusk and the air was restless. The mood of that evening reminded me of the first episode of the Wonder Years when Kevin went for a walk, only to find Winnie in the forrest after her brother had just died in Vietnam. Except with this story there is no comforting end and no Percy Sledge to ease my woes. 

Instead of coming to my driver side window and reading me my Miranda Rights, the cop opened my back-door, sat down as if a taxi passenger and read them. An unusual practice I thought – but who am I to discern protocol at this point.

I was being taken to jail still not knowing what I did. I looked to my passenger side once more as a beckoning call for someone to save me. I could have swore someone was next to me earlier.

We got to the police station and the redolent smell of urine, sweat and week old Chinese food permeated through the cemented thick grey walls. I was fingerprinted, asked to smile before taking my picture and then thrown into a cell with a pimp, crackhead and a gentlemen in a nice suit. Of the 4 of us, he’s the only one that didn’t belong. He probably committed some white collar crime like going to an underground Thai massage parlor or buying drugs from the dealer that just happened to be under-cover that day.

Prison was horrible. The 4 of us cramped in one room with a broken toilet in the center of the room.

A few hours before lights out we were given some food – but you could hardly call it that. The mashed potatoes looked rancid carrying with it a yellow hue that could easily be mistaken for butter – but wasn’t. The fork had some brown crud on it that you couldn’t beat off with all the s.o.s in the world and I couldn’t distinguish if the jello like cup was fruit punch or some type of medicine.

We also received an unmarked bag that we all opened immediately – a hand-held device of sorts. We powered them up in unison that had us instantly hooked. It had everything I wanted and needed. Books, games, reality tv, music and dirty pictures of every female I’ve ever fantasized about.

The next day we were released. We had a choice. Either to go home and give up the the device or stay one more day in the slammer. We chose the latter.

————-

I woke up from this dream that I can only piece together in fragments, but nonetheless felt relieved that I wasn’t in prison.

I looked at the time on my smartphone and proceeded to check my e-mails, social media channels and news – but stopped.

A Digital Prison

Perhaps my story is too dramatic and maybe slightly reminiscent of the Netflix series Black Mirror, but it’s still a cause to think clearly about what is happening in our world.

In one of my favorite futuristic episodes titled “nosedive” people have contact lenses imprinted on their eyelids. This enables them to see another’s rating. If you’re perfect you are a 5. Everyone has a smartphone that does the rating. If someone snubs you the wrong way or smiles at you – you are able to rate them accordingly. The main character was a 4.1. She was on her way to becoming a 4.5 or higher so she could enjoy the comforts of living in a wealthy community, first class seats and hobnobbing with other elites, but shit goes sour and a string of events leaves her at a 0. At which time she goes to prison, has those contacts removed and her smart-phone taken away.

After her lenses were removed she was able to see the dust particles in the air. She started to cry with a joyful disposition. She saw another prisoner across the room and they had a verbal confrontation. They both felt free because their was no fear of being judged or living this fake picture perfect life for others. They both were liberated.

The Irony is that the first time she felt freedom was when she was in prison.

Technology and the Future

Technology is wonderful when used consciously but through my own experience and what I have observed it’s clear to see the mass consumption of this digital pixelated world wreaking carnage on our minds.

  • Discipline is a hard thing to come by unless you are completely aware – that’s why most great inventions for the masses become problematic.
  • Alcohol and other recreational drugs are great in moderation and can stimulate creative thinking and can make social gatherings pleasing, but they have become reprehensible tools for the addicted.
  • A home was a great piece of technology but now people have more space than they need, thereby destroying the terrain of this planet.
  • Planting vegetables and eating animals we raised was once an admirable living but now we are involved in the mass execution of 100 billion land and sea creatures yearly. We carry no conscious care, whims or quarrels. It’s the biggest magic trick of them all.
  • The smartphone is a powerful piece of technology, yet if you ask many of my millennial counterparts what’s important in life -they can’t give you the slightest answer, but if you ask them the latest in TMZ news – they will gladly share that information. We live in a culture where people will share the depressing news of the day followed right after by some nonsensical humor. Information is so ubiquitous that we don’t have the patience to empathize with any of it. We are losing the capacity to care.

I could go on and on about what I foresee, but I choose to control this moment, because that’s all I have.

In the past year I have been mindful about technology. Many friends and family will get upset because often times I am inaccessible, but living in this manner has kept my sanity in check, let my creativity flourish and I’m able to enjoy a simple walk, a conversation – even a movie without the device.

Tips that have helped me

Perhaps you don’t have this problem and I suspect that many of you that are older don’t, but for us that were ripe in age during this technology boom – we may have an issue.

Be mindful of social media – The people we see, the things they do are just colors, pixelations and 1’s and 0’s organized in different patterns. Although the image of what we see may seem real, it will never be an alternative to having a real conversation, sharing a meal or hugging a loved one. Keep this in mind and use social media wisely, but don’t obsess over the lives of those that you see seldom.

Not everything has to be answered immediately – Everyone wants answers instantly. It’s the age of convenience, but see if answering people when you are ready works. I won’t reply to an e-mail much less talk to a person unless I am in a state of mind where I can deliver 100% of me.

Go on a technology detox – See if you can make the last few hours of your day a technology free zone. See if you can read a book, go for a walk, meditate or meet up with a friend without your phones.

News – It’s important to be informed about the world, but most news today will favor which ever side you’re on. They have algorithms that measure and pinpoint this for you so looking for credible sources is not even a concept anymore. Be mindful about what you consume. By having less news in your life you might be able to have a great conversation with those that hold opposing views. Think for yourself and not what others try to subjugate onto you.

You will die – The moment we are born our time is ticking. How do you want to spend your time. Is it relishing in the lives of others? Is it getting worked over politics in which you control nothing? Is it constantly looking for tips from others on what strategy to adopt without ever adopting anything?

You have all the answers within you. You are much stronger and smarter than you give yourself credit for. Trust your-self and you can tap into something uniquely and special to you.

Conclusion

These are just ideas. We all know what is good for us, but it takes an incredible amount of discipline, resilience, patience and awareness to make this so.

I wish you only the best.

Sincerely,
Anand Swamy