The High School Kids Make Lists


The Dream: I was back in high school. It was the night after a big party and about ten kids were running around with clipboards which held handwritten (remember handwriting?) lists of quips from the previous evening’s event, ranked from top to bottom. Almost all of the lists had something I said at the very bottom but it was explained to me that, duh, the lists were ranked from worst to best. I nodded and pretended like I knew that all along, which was the most realistic part of the dream because even in real life, even though I am a man in his forties, I am still apparently insecure enough that when I am confronted with a situation that I am unsure of I would just as soon pretend that I understand it than ask for additional information and potentially prove to anyone that there might be something they know that I don’t. (It is also worth noting that even in my dream I have to make myself the funniest guy in the room.) Anyway, the goal of the listmaking was for all the listmakers to hand their lists into some central organization where they would then be voted on, with the best list winning, I guess, a prize. Some of the listmakers were handing out a couple of dollars to each person whose quip helped make up their list, but other listmakers, who were clearly the popular kids, did not give out any money, seemingly on the understanding that just being included on their list was all the reward one needed. The dream ended before the vote happened.

Notes: Dream occurred at full clarity. I was never once aware that I was anywhere else but in the scenario presented. Setting was an amalgam of my actual high school and the many pop culture examples of high schools I has seen over the subsequent years. Some of the students involved were actual kids I hung out with back then. I appeared to be 17 or 18, which is pretty much how I exist in my mind all the time anyway. Dream and events within were for the most part believable and explicable. Random celebrity insertions did not challenge my credulity.

Analysis: But what does it mean? NOTHING. Dreams are meaningless. They are catalogs of persistent anxiety, unresolved anger, random events that have transpired in recent days and thwarted desires. They signify no coherent understanding of current events and they have less predictive power than the proverbial penny one flips a hundred times to divine some sort of direction or relieve oneself of the burden of decision-making. Dreams are worthless and investing them with any sort of significance is as idiotic as asserting meaning in unscheduled feline path-crossings or random looking-glass destruction. They are brain garbage. There is nothing more boring than the details of another person’s dream but if you are honest with yourself you will have to admit that your own dreams are not all that much more interesting. The only reason you are hearing about this dream is because I have a website. Sure, there are plenty of annoyances and irritations that are part and parcel of that (particularly if you are at an event where you are forced to explain what you do to people who make considerably more money than you by supervising complicated transactions around illusory maths or “creating” apps designed to help the already well-to-do save time and money by hiring the economically desperate to perform at subsistence-level wages the quotidian tasks we once all did each day without too much complaint but thank God now we can be freed up from running down to the liquor store or lifting up our arm to make a car stop and take us somewhere and instead we can better use that time to watch Netflix; maybe even worse than the rich, successful people who look down on you for plying your trade in the non-lucrative end of the already shallow content pool are the ones who, once they understand what your website is, tell you about a thing that happened to them in college that really changed their perspective on life and they bet it would be a really big pageview hit (for some reason everyone knows what pageviews are, or at least they think they do enough to throw the word around at the terrible parties I go to) if you ran it on your website and it’s all you can do not to say, “Yeah, you’re someone who spends her day standing in front of a whiteboard acting enthusiastic while you use words like ‘disrupt’ and ‘deliverables’ without any sense of shame, I’m sure your moment of college awareness really stuck with you,” but instead you nod and smile and tell them to please send it along) and there are always little things that crop up that need attending to that get in the way of your realizing your larger and more ambitious visions, but on the plus side if you want to go on and on about some dream you had no one can stop you. Or even edit you, really. Anyway, let me once again reiterate that all dreams are a bunch of worthless worries and weird memories and wants tossed into a cocktail shaker and agitated about before being poured into the highball glass that is your sleeping head, so seeking sense in any of them is a futile exercise, but with that caveat asserted I think it’s pretty clear that this dream is my mind telling me just how terrible the Internet is. It’s not even a particularly subtle dream. I mean, I guess the most I can say for my subconscious is at least it didn’t make the lists quizzes or have someone write a little essay about how my dreams aren’t actually dreambait. There was no flashing sign that read, “The Internet is terrible. Everything is terrible but the Internet is worse.” No one, in conversation with me, said, “You know what’s terrible? The Internet.” But it is fairly obvious that the message of this dream is that the most horrible thing we all face each day is the Internet. But also? It was JUST A DREAM. Al Pacino showed up there near the end, for some reason. It’s meaningless. Like life.

Conclusions: Everything is bad and only getting worse and why would the Internet be any different? Why wouldn’t the Internet be leading the charge? Dreams are worthless. See you in the subsequent installment of Alex Balk’s Dreamjournal! Who knows what we’ll look at next? Lately I have been having a recurring dream featuring the actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw but, uh, I don’t think I’ll be sharing that with you. Anyway, bye!