Despite how ubiquitous smartphones are to our waking life, they appear surprisingly rarely in dreams. When Twitter user @BrendanCredence tweeted about the phenomenon, over 56,000 users liked the tweet, and over 20,000 retweeted the sentiment. Other mundane details from our waking life does appear often dreams: waiting rooms, schools, dentist offices. Why don’t our phones?
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According to one theory of dreaming called the “threat simulation hypothesis,” our dreams exist to help us navigate anxieties and fears in a low-risk environment, essentially letting us practice for real life. It’s an evolved defense mechanism, and it means that generally, our dreams are more closely tied to fears that have been around for a long time, fears that could be relevant even to our ancestors. “People tend not to dream quite as much about reading and writing, which are more recent developments in human history, and more about survival related things, like fighting, even if that has nothing to do with who you are in real life,” Alice Robb, science writer and author of a forthcoming book on dream, explains at The Cut.
But of course the hypothesis may not be totally accurate: after surveying over 16,000 dream reports, researchers found that cell phones appeared in two to three percent of dreams — a low number, yes, but at a higher frequency than movies, computers or airplanes appear. (Cars are the most frequently appearing technology in dreams.) In any case: dreams are complex and hard to predict or analyze, and highly dependent on each person’s thoughts or life circumstances. For instance, someone in mourning is likely to have intense dreams, and receiving a call from the dead is not an uncommon dream.
Then again: would it really be so much fun to dream of texting someone to make plans, or checking your email yet again? Perhaps it’s better off that smartphones stay (mostly) out of our dreams.
(source: The Cut)