There’s a life skill to have that I think these days is more important than most. Probably the easiest way to explain it is by the ubiquitous cat and laser pointer that, by now, people in the Amazon jungle likely know about by carrier parrot.
Those of us that have had a cat of any generation have played with cats in one form of the other, but when the Theodore Maiman created the first laser in 1960 at Hughes Research Laboratory I’m fairly certain that he didn’t think that it would become something carried in pet stores. For those of you who don’t know, in the early days of the laser pointer, it was marketed for humans to use on humans for much the same reason.
In the days of boards and projectors, it was marketed as a tool to focus people on things. It worked really well until Microsoft decided to put out PowerPoint and making every meeting involving it a snooze fest. There was that window where the laser pointer had it’s day, only to be promoted to cat tormentor.
We think the cat is playing, but what is ‘playing’? The dictionary definition is doing something for enjoyment, and yet we don’t know that a cat necessarily enjoys attacking something it can’t actually stick in it’s mouth, which is where every other cat toy and other household item that catches their interest ends up. It’s instinctual, and one can argue that it’s a way of practicing hunting.
You Can Haz Cheezeburger?
How would you feel if someone kept sticking a cheeseburger image in front of you? You’d practice grabbing it and would never get it. I don’t imagine it would be fun. Granted, moving laser dots on the carpet don’t have a taste other than carpet, but work with me.
Now take a breath and look around you every day and find the red dots in life. These are basically just some group of people trying to direct you to do something. Maybe it’s a good thing like washing your hands.
Maybe it’s a thing where when you’re hungry or thirsty, maybe that last sticky advertisement will guide your money to a place where you think you’ll get what you’re thinking you want.
I don’t even need to name food chains, they likely already popped into your heads. Maybe just the word ‘cheeseburger’ had you thinking of a particular food chain because you associate that word with their product.
The movie ‘Detached’ has a clip going around now about ubiquitous assimilation. It’s about those red dots and developing our minds beyond the quick and dirty memes that get passed around like a joint at a barbecue. They get passed around by people who never read Richard Dawkins books much less ‘The Selfish Gene’. They likely have no idea why we call them memes. They’re just memes, which occupy attention like little red dots. We have marketing trying to sell products, we have people trying to market their own ideas with memes, and then sometimes some of those memes work to the benefit of everyone.
And sometimes you just get a mouthful of something that’s blech. Sometimes you might get a good cheeseburger, sometimes you might get a bad cheeseburger, you never know. Social media has people, little ones too, just chasing red dots.
That particular scene from ‘Detached’ has Adrian Body’s masterful delivery of such a simple concept that we should not only be teaching children but also reminding adults of. If your clicky clicky ain’t getting you cheeseburgers you like, stop chasing them.
Criticism is often met by gaslighting, blaming an individual for not getting the cheeseburger that was shown. Somewhere in some very fine print that you need to have compound eyes to read there’s a catch somewhere. As we grow older we learn to expect them – but rarely read the fine print because… you effectively need compound eyes. Imagine having your lawyer look over every software license, copyright license, terms of service document… you’d get nothing done, and you need to get things done.
What do you need to get things done? Are you chasing red dots again? What are you actually accomplishing? Do you have a sense of accomplishment? Do you get the cheeseburger in your mouth feeling, or do you get the red dot on carpet taste?
We need to spend time on ourselves so that we are less susceptible to bullshit red dots. Shine your own for yourself.
And maybe think about what the cat wants when you play with it.
17 thoughts on “The Red Dots of Life.”