I had a dream last night – bear with me, this is not just a post about my “weird dream” – that I was out somewhere and there were these cute baby goats. I kept trying to take a picture of the baby goats with my phone but the camera on my phone just wouldn’t work. I never got a picture of the goats and, in fact, even said to myself “There are no goats. This is a dream.” right before I woke up.

But the goats aren’t the important part. The camera is. As it happens, I’ve been having some difficulty with my camera phone lately. So the problems in the dream were not usual or off-the-wall. But I’ve had this dream before. This is the first time it has involved goats, but my inability to take a picture has become a recurring thing.

I wonder if anyone else has had that happen in a dream. Or more than one. And if so, what that might be tapping into.

Collective dreams are not that uncommon. A lot of people have dreams of losing their teeth, showing up naked, or that class that you’ve never studied for and there is a test. That last one is of particular interest because it is the most situation or society specific. Losing teeth is one of the oldest problems in the history of problems. Being naked goes back to whenever we first started wearing clothes. But school? As a universal thing? In the greater scheme of things, that’s pretty recent. Yet our collective subconscious has adapted it into an exemplar of unpreparadness.

These social dreams are interesting because they don’t appear to be something we get from one another. It’s not that we hear about someone having a dream about X and our subconscious says “Ohhhh, that’s a good way to rag myself over lack of preparedness.” A lot of us have these dreams for really long times before realizing that other people are dreaming them.

Do any of you have dreams involving cameras or other modern inventions malfunctioning?


Category: Bedroom

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

8 Responses to Twenty-First Century Dreams

  1. fillyjonk says:

    Not specifically “modern tech malfunctioning” but the dream of “I must do this thing and things are preventing me from doing it” is an extremely common anxiety dream for me.

    I remember one where I HAD to make a call using an old rotary phone, but that “fingerstop” was gone so there was no way to get the number dialed correctly and I kept getting wrong numbers….

    I also regularly dream that I’m driving down a road at night and suddenly my headlights go out, and I can’t see anything, can’t even see where the road is.

    • That sounds like my dreams. For me it’s not a rotary phone, but (usually) a touch tone phone, and I’m always entering in the wrong number, usually just off by one digit and have to start over. Of course, phones are so 20th century. I don’t specifically recall having problems with a cell phone. But for what it’s worth, I still use a flip phone, so maybe if I had a smarter phone, I’d have more modern dreams.

  2. Dr X says:

    I shoot a lot of photos, but I don’t recall ever having a dream about a camera malfunctioning. Thematically, it reminds me of a variety of dreams in which the dreamer is trying to do something ordinary, and it just won’t happen.

    I did have one technology dream when I bought my first computer and printer. The computer was an Apple 2c. I went budget on the printer, a Brother IIRC, and I was having a devil of a time getting the thing to print. At that point, all I really knew about computers/computing was Fortran IV and some Basic coding. I didn’t know anything about hardware.

    Anyway, after an evening of bumbling around, trying and failing to get my printer to print, I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream in which I was struggling with the printer, and realized there were some tiny switches inside the printer and info in the 2C manual listing the settings for those switches. IIRC the switches were called DIP switches. I got out of bed immediately, went to my work area, pulled out the manual, found the switch info, and got the printer working. The manual didn’t actually explain that I needed to set those switches on the printer. There was a lot of technical information/specs in the manual that wasn’t really explained. It was the dream that put it all together for me. I was surprised by it because up until that time, I hadn’t been aware of having ever had a dream in which I solved a concrete waking-life problem.

  3. trumwill says:

    That all makes sense. As someone with a kid who does cute things for a split second, the ability to take pictures quickly is kind of important. So it make sense that technology-not-working dreams might manifest themselves in particularly that way.

  4. Dr X says:

    Yes, it makes more sense now. Remember that “kid” is the term for a baby goat. It’s as if your kid is growing up too fast, and despite your effort to hold on to every moment, to freeze the moments in time, she keeps growing up. And like the end of your dream, someday there will be no kids, as if it had all just been a dream.

    I think I’ve commented here, or perhaps elsewhere, about why I collect historic photos and specifically take documentary photos. I just started doing it without thinking about it, but in retrospect I realized it was very much about reacting to a traumatic personal loss.

    The ubiquity of cameras and the almost compulsive use we make of them these days means that many of us will have more photos than we can ever look at.

    Recently, I was helping a friend with her photos, and I was begging her to do more deleting because she had over 100,000 photos, mostly of her kids and time spent with her kids. In the past, film cost, development cost and the relative inconvenience of processing limited how many photos we took. Now that the costs have been so minimized, taking photos can turn into a compulsion. The driven-ness suggests an element of sadness over loss and anxiety about expected loss. I’m not assuming that you’re someone who has a collection too large to view, but I’m highlighting the extreme to underscore the connection between taking photos and anxiety about loss.

  5. Foose says:

    Elevators. The elevator is breaking up, disintegrating around me and I am doomed to plummet to my death. It was really bad during college. It still tends to show up when my life is going out of control. Interestingly, I have absolutely no concerns about elevators in my waking life and am always happy to get on one.

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