The PC of your wildest dreams

As computers and the Internet become a part of everyday life, they are also entering into our subconscious.

Sometimes I'd wake up and remember what I'd been dreaming. In my dream, I'd be walking down a street or sitting in a restaurant and a certain situation would arise where I'd start thinking: `Now, I can fit a purple block there, a yellow block there, a green one on top of that and then a blue block.'

"It was totally bizarre."

It was surreal dreams such as these that convinced Dr Robin Hamilton to steer clear of his favourite computer game. He and a fellow medical student at St Mary's Hospital, London, were working full-steam towards important exams when they first latched on to Tetrus, a computer game that involves slotting brightly coloured building blocks into place, as a means of relaxation. For two hours a day, they would plug into Tetrus in between their studies, until the computer game started to invade their sleep.

"My Tetrus dreams didn't bother me at first," says Dr Hamilton, 27, who, eight years on, is a practising ophthalmologist based in Nottingham. "But it's horrible when you start to feel that something is beginning to take over your life. My friend admitted that he had been having the same dreams, so we both decided that after our exams, we wouldn't play Tetrus again. However, I did, a year later, while I was on holiday in Portugal, and I dreamt about it a couple of nights afterwards."

With increasing use of computers in daily life, it seems that more and more people are playing host to technology-related dreams. Personal accounts of computer reveries, both good and bad, appear frequently in the dozens of online dream journals available on the Net.

I personally have only dreamt about my computer once. Typically, the plot line escapes me. All I can remember is a huge, grey computer, about the size of a Sphinx, looming ominously before me.

Curiously, it did not look at all like the seemingly-amiable little iMac I had purchased earlier that day. The letters "www.com" kept flashing in front of me, and - in my dream - I was rooted powerlessly to the spot.

It is hardly surprising that I dreamt about my computer on that particular occasion. Along with a new printer, my computer had cost me a small fortune at a time when I was meant to be saving. Setting it up and getting to grips with it had been no easy task, either.

Mastering the iMac had become an ugly obsession. It had developed a nasty little personality and, at that stage, I would willingly have handed it over for scrap.

What seems strange now is that I spend most of my day at the mercy of my brightly coloured computer, and yet it has only once featured in my dreams.

Angst-filled teenage nightmares of walking down narrow school corridors wearing nothing but a pair of black nylon socks still continue to plague me, but the daily trauma of a frozen cursor and the stress of my hard drive crashing have no place in my nightly dream state.

Psychologists, psychiatrists and scientists will go on debating forever on the issue of whether dreams reflect subconscious forces or, instead, reveal what troubles us in our daily lives. According to Dr Allan Hobson, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School: "Certain activities, like computing, that you think would be in there a lot, aren't. Reading, writing, sitting at one's desk, the kind of things we do all day, almost never get in there."

But for some people, hardly a night goes by when computers do not play a starring role in their dreams. Willa Cline, a Web designer in Missouri and author of a daily dream journal (http://www.willa. com/dreams/dream197.htm), frequently dreams about working on her website. "Over the weekend, I dreamt about working on the computer in Photoshop, manipulating graphics to use on a website. And last week, I dreamt about coding in HTML," she says. "Most people I know who work with computers a lot dream about them. I love computers and I love my work, so I don't mind.

"I don't think it's so much the working on computers that causes us to dream about them, but the depth to which we're involved with them," Cline says. "I don't recall dreaming about computers when I was working as an administrative assistant because, although I worked on a computer all day, I used it as a tool and wasn't really deeply involved in the working of it."

John Suler, a professor of psychology at Rider University in New Jersey, has taken the idea of dreaming about computers a stage further. In his Web textbook about the psychology of cyberspace (http://www. rider.edu/suler/psycyber/psycyber.html), he draws a direct parallel between dreaming and the Web-surfing mind.

"Under the right conditions, cyberspace becomes a dream world, not unlike the world that emerges when we sink into sleep," he says. "The dreamer can rapidly shift from one scenario to another without having to travel any ground. So too in cyberspace the user can transcend the laws of space and physics. One simply has to click on a button to be transported from one location to another."

As happens in our dreams, people and images in cyberspace appear out of nowhere (what Professor Suler refers to as "spontaneous generation"). "Time is irrelevant and when the computer screen freezes, it's not unlike the familiar paralysis nightmares where our legs become sluggish or stuck in the mud, despite our best efforts to run," Professor Suler says. "The common denominator for all these experiences is that people `lose themselves' in the activity."

Dissociation is a common phenomenon in dreams and cyberspace at large. "Every visual element in a dream may be a representation of some aspect of the dreamer's identity. Each character and object in the dream is a split-off or dissociated component of the self - but the dreamer is not fully aware of this," Professor Suler says.

"It's a well-known fact that people use the Internet to express and experiment with various aspects of their identity. Some people deliberately create a specific online personality for themselves. They have some unconscious control over the same kind of wish fulfilment that fuels dreams."

Jerry Gifford, 48, a fence contractor in Kentucky, offers a layman's interpretation of dreams via his website (http://www.angelfire.com/t n/MythsDreamsSymbols/index.htm) A dream enthusiast for the last six years, Gifford bases his interpretations on the teachings of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung and the mythologist Joseph Campbell. He predicts that it won't be long before computers become a potent symbol in our dreams.

"As computers become more important in our lives, we will have more dreams using computers as symbols," Gifford predicts. "And there's no doubt that in time they will become as important to us as our homes and our cars, largely because they will become an everyday experience whose value will be measured in the `experience' as much as their cost. In another five or 10 years, computers will become a collective personal image within the dream."

Taking up Professor Suler's line, it comes as some relief then to learn that we have the same control over our dreams as we have over computers. "When things get too uncomfortable in cyberspace, we can hit the `off' button," he says. "It's the virtual equivalent of the mind's switching off an anxiety dream or a nightmare by waking you up."

Reassuring news then, if dreaming about a tank-sized iMac is not your idea of a good night's sleep.

Dream-related websites:

http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

A monthly Webzine containing news, articles and information on dream- related events.

http://www.greatdreams.com/deepage.htm

Prolific dreamer Dee Finney chronicles her "Crystal Dreams and Visions", dating back to 1988.

http://members.aol.com/rpersonals/dream

Gustavus Hindman Miller's 1909 book of 10,000 Dreams Interpreted - everything you could possibly want to know about dreaming - from "anvils to zebras".

http://www.imall.com/stores/dreamdecoding/dreamdecoding1.html

Tip sheets and information on how to decipher your dreams, plus hints for clearer dreaming.

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?