March 31, 2023•268 words
Gaia Bernstein's book, Unwired: Gaining Control Over Addictive Technologies, is out this week. In an excerpt / synopsis of Unwired, published on Wired (I know, I know...), she recalls watching her friends' 11-year-old child throw a tantrum when an iPad gets taken away for dinner time - just as her father did, years back, when he was denied a pack of cigarettes upon a bad diagnosis. "(L)earning how the battles of the past played out also provides a rich repository for future action," she argues.
Unwired comes out almost exactly 30 years after Tool's "Undertow", and their first single, "Sober" (NSFW, swearing etc). I remembered and re-played the album this week. I remembered how Tool got me through bad times, and realized how Tool's music gives me the strength to dig deeper, again, after all these years. Commenting on "Sober", Tool's Adam Jones remarked on the same guilt-shifting mechanism that Bernstein identifies among the tobacco, fast food, and social media companies: "If you become addicted and a junkie, well, that's your fault."
In my head, it makes sense to connect these two messages. The connection between Tool and Bernstein shows me that, although I am now "sober" in the conventional sense of the word, there are still areas of my life, online and offline, where I'm far from sober in the Tool/Bernstein sense. And that just as messing up these areas was not 100% my choice, it follows that any change in these areas may be bigger than just my responsibility, and harder than anything I can handle myself.
It's a dark thought. Hopefully a sobering one, too.