Our efforts in modern technological society to make life more and more frictionless seem to know no limits. The latest invention to fill this need is the Lyd bottle. This is a bottle that opens up when you put your lips to it and closes up when you withdraw your lips. It is battery-powered and operates through a touch sensor in the lid. When one uses this bottle, one no longer has to worry about liquid running down the side of one’s face. As if that constitutes one of the major problems in life.
Okay, I am being facetious. But this need to make an activity that is fairly frictionless even more frictionless is part of a deeper issue in modern technological society. As life becomes more and more frictionless, and we sink more and more into the numbness of an experiential vacuum, we feel a need to find activities that will generate friction and help us to feel alive. Many of these activities fall under the rubric of kicks, adventure, gambling, kinky sex, illegal drugs. Within the category of work, there is that group of people we call entrepreneurs, and some of them get involved in the paradoxical activity of generating friction-filled research in order to achieve the goal of making one more area of life easier to deal with and, therefore, even more frictionless. In other words, one engages in short-term friction-filled efforts in order to feel more vibrantly alive and make and preserve organic imprints. But, in the long run, one has ended up making an area of life that is already fairly frictionless even more frictionless.
And this is because a potential inventor in his desperate desire to pull out of his numbness, reconfigures a frictionless activity in his mind into an activity that in his numbness suddenly seems to be shockingly friction-filled. The most frictionless activities can suddenly be made to seem shockingly friction-filled when one is sunk into numbness. Oh, the effort required to life a bottle to one’s lips and drink from it without spilling it down the side of one’s face. And oh, the terrible consequence that ensue if one does accidentally let the liquid onto one’s face and even onto one’s shirt, blouse, sweater or jacket.
The truth of the matter is that just maybe there aren’t that many significant problems to solve anymore with regard to the average person’s routine of daily life. And this petty silly imprint of a spill-less bottle is all that some people can come up with in order to give their lives some relevance and meaning, and, at least for the short term, some real friction as a result of grappling with the problem that has to be solved.
Our consumer society is constantly trying to make daily life easier, when, in truth, our lives would be more satisfying if there were more areas that generated real difficulty. Maybe someone should invent a bottle where liquids spill out more easily than usual, so that people would have to exert more effort to make sure that more of their liquid goes down their mouths and their throats, rather than down their cheeks and onto their clothing.
Or maybe people should start focusing on larger issues that are the result of the tension pocket waste products of all of our efforts to make life so frictionless. Waste product situations like air pollution, noise pollution, chemical pollution of our land, crowded housing projects, crowded highways, all these problems and many more are situations that are caused by modern technological efforts to make life more frictionless. At the same time, these waste product situations, these tension pockets, push people to search for relief from such situations by escaping into frictionless experiential vacuums. So we can go back and forth between abrasive friction and frictionlessness, between overstimulation and understimulation. But when we sink into the numbness of frictionlessness, even a task like drinking water from a regular bottle can seem evidently like overstimulation.
So why do we need a Lyd bottle or other friction-eliminating inventions? First, to temporarily relieve ourselves from what we perceive as some of the experiential pollution that comes from some of the abrasive friction and the waste products in our lives. But second to also relieve ourselves from the stress coming from our irrational perceptions of what are to be thought of as waste products and abrasive friction that, in turn, comes from our increasing lack of tolerance of any stimulation within our increasing experiential numbness.
The ongoing trajectory of much of our technological advancement will continue to be to find ways of making more and more of our daily activities that are already quite frictionless from many of our post technological advances, even more frictionless than before. More and more frictionless and removing more and more of the risks in the activity. For instance, with Lyd bottles, we are taking away the risk of spilling on ourselves. If you buy now, you can get a 13 oz. Lyd bottle for $39.00 and a 17 oz. Lyd bottles for $44.00. These are reduced prices and are only occurring now because there is a kickstarter campaign going on. Eventually, the bottles will retail for $69.00 and $79.00 respectively. If you want a risk-free drinking experience and are willing to pay $69.00 or $79.00, all I can say is that this is the opportunity of a life time. Perhaps you think that you will melt from spilled liquid like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. This is the kind of attitude that can develop when you feel so very, very numb.
© 2018 Laurence Mesirow