I was vaguely aware of this before I got a smart phone but it has become more apparent to me since I got one a few months ago; there is no more room for daydreams in our technology saturated American world. At work I eat lunch by myself (there are other people working in the room, but I am the only one on lunch) and if I am not actively eating or doing something on my phone, if I am staring into space, someone inevitably asks me if I'm tired or tells me that I look tired. This caused me to think of daydreams in general and the fact that our society may very well now “advertently” or inadvertently frown on this activity. I believe we have come to expect people to always be doing something, on their phone, e-reader, etc., even if they are riding a bus or a subway or waiting for their lunch break to be over. We think it odd if someone is just sitting there “not doing anything.”
Before I go on, I have to be a little confessional so people will not think me too judgmental, or maybe I will be too judgmental, but I am including myself in the judgment. I waste a lot of time on the internet, with unlimited access to (some of the time correct) information, I choose to look at Failblog and on-line comics.
Saying that, there is something to be said about being drawn out of our selves and exposed to new ideas and information, it keeps our ideas from getting locked in place, our thoughts going in circles, and our dreams running into dead ends because we cannot see beyond a certain thought we have; but when all this outside “information,” all this stimuli, involving singing cats, angry birds, and dancing dogs, it is not enriching our dreams and developing our ideas, but distracting us from potential dreams and ideas. In the constant bombardment of outside stimuli, our fragile dreams are chased away, our unformed ideas float away as mist, and the echoes of our hopes cannot be heard.
When someone is staring into space or even staring at (through) you, they may be a million miles away, may be “building a castle in the air,” imagining a reunion with a long-lost friend, working out a detail of a masterpiece story, or developing a cure for a disease. Regardless of what's going on behind their eyes, do not rush to judgment, thinking they are strange because they aren't “doing anything.” In fact, I encourage you to put your phone down and sometimes “do nothing,” too. Also, it's an interesting REAL world out there, full of unique sights, sounds, and people. I absolutely love photography, but actually seeing a sunset, a beautiful flower, or a lovely friend, is much better than seeing an instagram picture of it or them. That's another reason to put down what you're holding, listening to, or looking at.
On a side-note, there used to be more activities during which you could be “doing something” and still have room in your head for dreams at the same time. Some things that come to mind are knitting, milking a cow, whittling, washing dishes, etc. Another side-note, it seems more culturally acceptable to “stare into the fire” than to stare at/through anything else, maybe that is one reason we enjoy campfires so much, they give us an excuse to dream in an environment that is often free of most modern disractions.