I was perched unceremoniously on the funky love seat in the dining room and people were looking at me expectantly. I was, for the first time, plugged into the Matrix known as Thync Technology, and I was tripping balls.
It might have been the lingering Klonopin dose and the mild alcohol intake, but I didn't expect it to affect me so deliciously. My seventeen-year-old daughter — more conservative than her parents in the way of today's youth — kept goading me, "you're lit. You are absolutely lit like a candle. Bruh. BRUH."
"Nooooo," I protested, slow and low (the tempo the experience demanded of me.)
"I just. I just . . ." I look at her and I'm smiling.
"Wait. No. I just really. I really think you . . . should stop talking, okay?" I wouldn't use the word chortle if that's not what I did. It was a deep, slow chortle. I was really not feeling like I needed to be bothered by anything.
About three weeks before this maiden voyage on the Good Ship Get-Fucked-Up, my boyfriend (who wins on this and so many other points for his sheer awesomeness) had heard a riveting piece about a wearable device called Thync on a WNYC podcast, and, as we share a mild enthusiasm for mood-altering substances, we determined that obtaining one of these gizmos — our very own paean to human innovation! was paramount.
You see, the journalist who'd narrated that piece got so hammered during her conversation with Thync's CEO, she couldn't actually complete the interview. She, by her own admission, gave zero shits about what was being said at some point. She and the interviewee piously concluded that she'd gotten too high for too long, and that next time she'd "know better," and make the proper adjustments. Cue eye roll.
I'm no stranger to brain-hacking. A few years ago, I scored a much-coveted prescription to modafinil (legitimately . . . no, really,) which is a nootropic taken by investment bankers and the like, because it gives you crazy hyper-alertness and optimizes personal performance, all without cracked-out jitters like you'd get from Adderall or lots of coffee. I'm also clinging to an as-needed benzodiazepine 'scrip (the cancellation of which is always dangled threateningly).
In recent months, however, I've been relying a little too much on these prescriptions for their role in kickstarting my day and chilling me out when stressed. I eat right, I exercise daily, I nurture healthy relationships . . . hell, I even go to therapy twice a month. What's a girl to do? Meditate?
Okay, so yeah, right before the advent of Thync in my life, I took up meditating. Again. I used to be disciplined as hell about a daily practice many years ago, until I reasoned that it wasn't giving me anything I didn't get by going for a nice run, and going running had the added benefit of giving me a firmer butt. However, I'm prone to changing my mind when presented with convincing evidence, and even though you can take your (related?) "hot yoga" and seriously send it sailing off a tall building and take your didgeridoo with you while you're at it, I got sucked back into meditating in a big way for all the good things I'd been learning it does for you physiologically. See? I'm trying all the things.
And boom, now there are apps for it. I have one of them set to chime to tell me when it's time to practice! mindfulness! now! It's all part of the sudden ubiquity of "nudge tech." My watch tells me when I've been sedentary for too long, and extension on my web browser reminds me to drink water throughout the damn day. I remember when there was a bell, a book, and a candle. Some Nag Champa incense. A zafu pillow. I miss it? Or maybe completely not. And with the addition of this wearable component to what I've already integrated, I've added digitally-driven mood-altering to what feels like a brave new world of data geeking, including the ability to obtain and record (with ease) my pulse, water intake, sleep quality, heart rate min/max throughout the day, stairs climbed, as well as my "performance" improvements with regards to brain-building and mindfulness-training apps. And I'm not hating it.
I'm writing this with a tortilla-shaped plastic device stuck to my forehead that's connected with conductive metallic "tape" attached with goo to another part of my skull. It's delivering as much as twenty milliamperes of electrical current into the nerves associated with either the "fight-or-flight" impulse (Energizing mode) or the "rest-and-digest" (Calming.) I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to, but I've been tempted to use it most of my waking hours. I wouldn't say I'm a drug seeker, but if you hand me something and I even remotely trust you, I'm probably going to take it, because I'm cavalier that way. Surprisingly, over the decades, that's led to a lot less random and unpleasant trips down intoxication highway than you'd expect. I've never had much trouble with overusing drugs, but I'm really . . . um, liking it. I kind of don't want to take it off.
I will say this: my evening ritual has become something low-key extraordinary. I sit on in my bed with a programmable, remote-control operable LED lamp on my dresser setting the scene (over 16M colors to choose from!) as it cycles through hues reminiscent of psychedelia's heyday. The room is delicately redolent of orange, cedar, and lavender essential oils emitting an olfactorily symbiotic micro-mist from a diffuser that also purifies the air and adds beneficial negative ions (so I'm led to believe.) I apply the Thync device to my forehead and link the connector to the back of my neck and set its app to the "Zen" program. I choose an appropriate guided meditation from yet another app and finally: ready, set, START CHILLING.
The naysayers are circling with torches defending . . . what? That charming fraud, alcohol? Burning cannabis? That's arguably better — although the jury, annoyingly, is still out — than the sauce, but also not ideal. It's easy to say that this current of electricity and its method of delivery hasn't totally been proven absolutely one hundred percent free from any negative consequences — but since when has that stopped us, or any civilization ever—from seeking to alter our consciousnesses and improve upon our moods? Ever since we discovered, "hey, have you noticed what happens when you lick this frog," it's been part and parcel of the human experience.
I just wish my beloved Thync was either a) smaller and more discreet; or b) cuter.