TALK about your control freaks. A new application for mobile devices is set to help you “script” your dreams.
That’s right, no more sloppy, free-range subconscious for you. It seems that “sleep technology” – and who knew there was any? – has advanced to the point where you can tell your brain where to go and how to get there even when you’re face down, drooling onto your orthopedic pillow.
This is all according to a trend report I receive online and usually ignore because I’m a fusty old bag who really doesn’t care whether orange is in, wedge soles have trampled ballet shoes and quinoa is so five minutes ago. Sometimes, though, I need a metaphorical balloon to pop with my magical typing forefinger and this week, it’s people who can’t let anything alone. You want to control your dreams, you say? In the name of God – why?
I won’t look for answers from the app called Yumemiru, which apparently translates to “see the dream.” According to my trend report, which calls itself Cassandra Daily, “Users run the app in their phone’s background, where it plays sounds programmed to trigger the specified illusion.”
The effect is sort-of like what lazy people like me did in high school when we read our lecture notes into a tape recorder and played the tape back as we drifted off the night before an exam, in the vain hope that the essential rules of French grammar would stick. With Yumemiru, before you slip away to dreamland you simply “script the images (you’d) like to see while sleeping, from among eight different fantasy scenarios… designed to stimulate the astral plane.”
These include flying, romance, and “becoming rich.” I was, quite frankly, appalled when I read that. Do people honestly dream about getting rich? In my own dreams, I’m always too busy trying to find a pair of pants.
If you buy into dream control, you’re definitely the trusting sort. The creator of the Yumemiru is a Japanese advertising firm called Hakuhodo, “so don’t be surprised if you awaken yearning to buy something random,” burbles Cassandra Daily. To my mind, if you’re willing to cede command of your dreams to an advertising agency, you haven’t immersed yourself sufficiently in TV’s Mad Men or listened to enough of Terry O’Reilly’s fantastic CBC radio series Under the Influence. Talk about making a pact with the Devil; this is handing over your psyche, lock, stock and barrel.
But these Japanese advertisers aren’t the only ones promising to sculpt your nocturnal adventures. A British psychologist called Richard Wiseman has developed seductive soundscapes for Apple’s mobile operating system iOS in an app called Dream:ON. Its 20 scenarios include “Space Shuttle,” “Wild West” and “A Trip to Tokyo.” (Japan again. Hmm.)
Downloading this app is, suspiciously, free. I smell a quick and easy route to mass thought control, but then, I’m not a joiner. Says Cassandra Daily, “the hope is that this unique dream database will ultimately provide valuable research for helping sufferers of depression.” I know that when I’m depressed, it’s my most fervent desire to find myself roping steers and shooting cowboys (or vice versa) whenever I’m not singing Don’t Stop Believin’ over slabs of raw eel in a Tokyo karaoke bar.
But this isn’t even the sum total of the mind manipulation on offer. Simply visit the iTunes store to find an app called Sigmund that was designed by Harvard PhD student Daniel Nadler. During a sleep study for the Mind/Brain/Behavior Interfaculty Initiative (no alarm bells there), Nadler found that he could direct 40 percent of the dreams of participants by staging readings during their REM cycles.
You can do it yourself using Sigmund, which provides you with 1,000 keywords from which to create your own “dream story” that will be read aloud to you while you’re dormant.
“If the app proves a hit, ‘event dreaming’ could become the next hot form of entertainment,” says the relentlessly upbeat Cassandra Daily.
In the interest of leaving pretty much nothing to chance, another application devoted to “life-tracking” promises to turn your most tedious real-time activities into “beautiful visualizations” by means of happiness trackers. When you’re in a good mood, you can register it through your handheld device on Happstr so an icon can pinpoint the locations of you and your fellow chirpy nutbars on an interactive map.
You’ll be alerted as other users check in so you can charge up to happy-go-lucky strangers and bust their bliss by blathering at them about your awesome rhododendrons or C+ in math, or whatever has got you smiling this time. Or, as Cassandra Daily puts it, you can share your “exultant moments.” Remember when people used to share their exultant moments with their partners, parents and friends? (Well, I do.)
Lord. It’s got to be exhausting regulating and keeping tabs on everything from your hourly mood swings to your nightly dreams. I thought the 1970s was the “Me” decade -- the masses’ obsession with self then was peanuts compared to this. Welcome to the “i” decade.