I supposed maybe my mother wasn't so wrong for not showing me the validation I craved so much. I couldn't fit in, not even with kids who had never met me before. The disease of invisibility was beginning to take me over. My father was the one who told us stories about how my mom and he grew up. Not qualified at all to be having this conversation with you. Yeah, yeah, you already said that, she replied with a wave of a hand. She pretended to be squinting into a crystal ball. So I went to an anthropologist friend with your question, I said, then relayed Dr Bell's insights, including her proposed reading list. I told her that everything was on a spectrum, and she needed to decide where she was today and where she wanted to be in the future. What kind of love are we talking about in the future? The notifications--with their vibrations, annoying tones, and flashing lights--are supposed to feel urgent and act as a call to action, to divert our attention from whatever we're doing, whether it is a message, a call, an email, a DM, or a comment needing a reply. Some of these can be mindfully set up to remind us to wake up at the right time, drink water, take our medication, and not miss important events. Our computers have pop-ups that tell us when we have a new email, Slack message, or push notification. We can, and will, be interrupted in any given moment if we have notifications enabled. Notifications mean that we have very little control over when a tug-of-war for our attention might take place. As well as the loss of control over when our focus will be interrupted, we experience a shot of cortisol when the notification sounds. Of all the times we might need a shot of cortisol, it isn't when we've been tagged in a photo from a recent day out with our friends. Mom rarely offered any information about her past. If my mother wasn't criticizing me, she never found a reason to talk to me at all. If it weren't for my father, I would know nothing about the horrors of her own childhood.

My father had a natural need to feel as if his children had some understanding of why he and my mother were the way they were. They made sense, but they often left me feeling guilty and ashamed. My father said he had never seen a cockroach or a mouse until he visited my mother in Corona Queens while they were dating. He told of being shocked by the obviously neglected furniture, and the tears in the carpets that lined the small rooms. He'd recall how the apartment was infused with the stench of alcohol, and reminded us that every member of my mother's family was an alcoholic, except her. It was nonbinary, meaning it wasn't either-or, one or the other. There was a whole range of possibilities, and the right answer was up to her. Well, that certainly gives me a lot to go on, Ruth said once I had finished. Well, the first step is to ask yourself what kind of future you want, I said, diving headlong into the futurecasting process. In so doing, it's sometimes helpful to ask yourself what is the future you want to avoid. We've become primed in anticipation of receiving an alert, so much so that some of us will experience a phantom alert--the ones we can swear we heard or saw, but when we pick up our phones, there's nothing there. Let's not forget the added side dose of cortisol that's triggered when we repeatedly switch tasks. Psychologist David Meyer has studied the effect of the toll of this constant switching back and forth between tasks, and found that it can reduce the productivity of our brain by as much as 40 percent! Diving into the settings is a way we can regain some control, quiet our spaces, and reduce levels of cortisol. We can be ultra-picky about what we keep activated, how we're notified, and when. While we're at it, we can enable the blue-light filter to stop the light from wreaking havoc with our melatonin production and take a look at any changeable settings that tell people we're online or have received/seen/read a message. Any settings edit that reduces stress, improves concentration, and decreases the pressure we might feel to respond quickly is our way of drawing up the boundary drawbridge to create space for ourselves. We tend to flit from app to app when we're on our devices. A quick check-in with the news, a catch-up with what Aunt Edna is up to, a log-in to keep tabs on our bank balance, a speedy reply to a comment, and then we might find ourselves down a scroll-hole. The apartment my mother lived in was located above a bar.

Your mother used to have to go get her mother off of a barstool downstairs, because her mother was too drunk to make it back to their apartment. Your mother would clean her up and put her to bed. Your mommy is a good woman, so be good to your mother, he'd say to my brother, sister, and me. My father made certain to let us know why my mother had the compulsion to clean as often as she did. He told us we should be happy and grateful that Mommy cleaned so much. He said that she yelled at us because she wanted a clean home. He said that she loved us, and that's why she cleaned so often. I glanced over at the gray-haired couple, with the chaos of children in the pool in the background. Watching them pick at their salads with relaxed smiles centered me. That's a great start, but we need more detail, I continued. We're not always mindful of when and why we pick up our devices, and we tend to fill holes in our day with them; Our brains can't keep up, just as a computer will struggle to compute efficiently when it has too many tabs open. When it comes to our social media feeds, we frequently don't exercise the power we have at our fingertips. The wading through posts that cause us to feel lacking, jaded, or subpar doesn't serve us. There's a hesitation that comes with using, at will, the options to mute, unfollow, report, and block, but when we mindfully curate feeds that enrich our lives with positivity, things we're interested in, motivated and inspired by, and people we genuinely like, then we feel the benefits of that from the get-go. It's a skewed sense of responsibility that comes with remaining friends with those whose posts bring you down in any way, and especially with those you wouldn't speak to if you saw them walking down the street. You wouldn't (hopefully) buy a magazine full of content that you felt disinterested in or disengaged and disconnected from. To some extent, we all have the opportunity to choose what we see when we log in. He told us not to be selfish, and to leave her alone. Even as a small child, I was somehow able to comprehend why my father painted such a sorrowful picture of my mother's childhood for us.

I would inevitably feel sorry that my mother had to endure what she had as a little girl. I wished she would let me hold her hand, or hug her, or let me do something nice for her. But I knew that closeness was not as much as a priority for her as it was for me. My mom did everything barefoot, including mopping the floors with bleach and water. Her feet were dry and her heels bore signs of hard labor. I usually find a good place to start is with experts in the field, I said. I picked up my phone and did a quick search of What makes a healthy relationship? I always tell people not to ask the internet a serious question. We can delete and remove posts, but basically, anything we post online acts as a digital footprint that has the potential to come back to bite us in ways we might not realize. If we're considering our input, it's worth being mindful of our output, too--what we're sharing, where we're sharing it, why we're sharing it, who we're sharing it with--and considering if there will be any implication to doing so that could infringe upon our privacy boundaries. When we scroll online, we're met with intimate knowledge about those we don't know intimately. Getting acquainted is no longer an organic process; Most recruiters and employers have access to information that they'd never have been privy to in pre-social media days. They can now actively search for social media profiles and websites of applicants and employees because our feeds tell others so much about us. The information we post online can identify where we live, who we live with, what the inside of our home looks like, the names of our pets, who we've dated, where we went to school, where we've worked, where we shop, who we're friends with, our likes and dislikes, what we do in our spare time, the politics and sports teams we support, how we speak to others, our clothing tastes and style, our preferred pronouns, our health history, our sexual orientation, the posts we've liked and shared, and so on--the list is endless. And all with matching photographic entries to create a scarily accurate chronological encyclopedia of you and those closest to you. In 2017, a long-standing machine operator who had a clean disciplinary record was dismissed from her workplace because of a comment she wrote on Facearticle. A quick Google search will pull up numerous results of cases where employees have had their employment terminated because of something they've published on social media. Once in a while one of our neighbors from down the street asked me to watch her kids while she went to play bingo at our church. She was a generous woman, and often paid me extra if she won big at bingo.

I remember saving money up to buy my mother a new pair of sneakers. I remember hushing my doubts away about buying her a present. My little hope spot told me Mom would be grateful, and appreciative that I cared about her weathered feet. Then she'd know how much I loved her, and maybe, just maybe she'd reflect back to me some love, or a sense of acceptance in her eyes. I remember my mother looking down at the box with a puzzled look on her face. Responsible parenting [if you want to have kids or dogs or cats or fish . After reading the various lists, I said, When you think about the future relationship you might want, those are some pretty good places to start. We can take an interest in someone or reject them, as quickly as a swipe left or swipe right. Google will lead us down a rabbit hole of their social media profiles, from which we can learn how many siblings they have, what they studied, if they know the difference between there and their, whether they have any pets, what music they're into, whether they've had long-term partners, been married, have children, their mannerisms--and all before we've given that old-fashioned thing called physical chemistry a chance! It's also worth exploring the opposite side of the sharing coin: the rhetoric surrounding oversharing, which is often met with disdain and a sneer. It's true that there are already posts aplenty that we might find loud. We might consider the space to be too crowded, and in feeling that, we might hesitate in sharing our stories, lessons, and experiences--not wanting to add to the noise, not wanting to take up space. As a species, it's the sharing of information that has led us to comprehend that the world isn't indeed flat, that there's this thing called gravitational pull, and that most of the photographs we see in magazines are photoshopped. When she opened the box, she looked up at me with a sarcastic expression and said, Whattya think, you can buy my love, Lisa? Speechless, my little heart felt dazed, as if I had done something wrong or even bad. No matter what I tried to do to gain my mother's acceptance, it always failed. Nothing was more important to me than gaining her love, when I was a little girl. Feeling invisible to the being who created me felt unnatural, ill, and rotten. Being so immensely void of any feeling of worth, and simultaneously engulfed by fear, ate me alive from the inside out. My mother, my source of life, could not accept me, and worse, in front of others she pretended she did.