The afflictions of modernity are varied, numerous, and sometimes mysterious; and, I think we can probably all agree, often very, very boring. Such pains are no less serious for all that, however; for example: the neck and back pain resulting from constant connection to phones and laptops; the head wounds from texting and walking; the cramped thumbs from texting people who may very well be in the same room; the headaches resulting from trying to figure out how “lol” is pronounced; all these, and other preoccupational hazards that I am too old to either know of or comprehend, are the growing pains of the 21st-century modern.
As a person living on-grid in 2016, I personally suffer from any number of these modern afflictions at various times, except for the head wounds: I’ve yet to receive a text worth breaking both pate and pride over. Now in particular, I’m finding social media, specifically Twitter, difficult. I used to love it; it made some kind of sense to me and I think I had actual conversations with people sometimes. But I’ve somehow lost most of whatever about it used to be engaging, so I’ve got some classic teen social disenfranchisement going on; I haven’t felt this disaffected since failing to feel disaffected, like so many of my friends did, after reading The Catcher in the Rye in high school.
Here’s another modern affliction which, I fancy, will make me stand out in medical studies perused by the brain doctors of the future (that is, for the 30 or so seconds they will be capable of focusing on anything): I am the victim of boring dreams. Every night, I am woken by incredibly uninteresting and interminable dreams, which I have cleverly, although more obviously than cleverly, named dullmares. These awful things both interrupt my rest and make me sluggish with ennui the next day. They provide absolutely no interesting tidbits to be worked up into what would in all likelihood become classic pieces of literary art.
A sampler: Dreams about filling in online form after online form after online form; dreams about not being able to find my phone; dreams about webpages I need to look at but which won’t finish loading; dreams about wi-fi that doesn’t work, no matter how many times I turn the modem off and then on again. The only honestly good thing about these choice examples of my dullmares is that it took much less time for me to write them out, and for you to read them, than it took for them to conclude once they got going in my restless brain.
In the months this has been going on, I’ve had only one promising and proper nightmare: it involved being pursued through a large, multi-storied building by a human-sized, grey land-octopus. What its malign intentions were I never discovered, for in entire keeping with my more straightforward and less fearful dullmares, it went on forever and ever and there were no plot twists to lend any real interest to the chase.
That said, I’m not certain dreams are ever actually interesting. Even when they’re weird or fascinating or crazy or supremely adjectival in some other way, hearing about other people’s dreams is generally kind of a bummer. I don’t know many people anymore who believe that dreams always, and by their very nature, hold the key to the subconscious. We’ve all had dreams that are obviously significant, but that’s the point: those ones are obviously significant, and their meaning equally obvious. The ones that don’t make sense? Reliving them out loud for friends and family doesn’t generally lead either to elucidation or entertainment.
Just now you’re likely asking, “So…why the ever-living hell did you get me reading this damn piece about your dull-ass dullmares…?” Good question. It’s possible that I wanted simply to introduce this smart and useful neologism into general circulation. Since an emoji was 2015’s word of the year, I figure all bets are off when it comes to respect for either language or people who use language. Which means dullmare is on. It’s on. It’s rockin’ and rollin’. And we’ve all had a dullmare; if we’re unusually unlucky or guilty of something lazy and uninspired, maybe a lot of them.
Perhaps someone can create an emoji for all those in need of some shorthand; I’m thinking a picture of a depressive horse, with no charm or looks to take the edge off its personality, to text friends when one is all sad and sleepy after dreaming the long night through of updating an infinity of Excel spreadsheets.
Or maybe I’m just feeling puckish.