Several years ago, a friend’s daughter lost a close high school friend to suicide. My friend asked me if I had anything to send them as a source of comfort and understanding. She knew that I have lived experience with suicide: My father took his own life in 2008, and I suffered terrifying suicidal ideation during my journey through and ultimate recovery from a major depression in 2013. Having just learned this morning of another of these unbearable tragedies, I decided to publish here an edited version of what I wrote for my friend and her daughter:

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(Device Use Disorder in the smartphone age.)


Before handheld phones got smart, they were called “cell” phones. What a wonderfully ironic name for a device that, as Apple boosts its IQ, locks so many of us into isolation. Which leads me to today’s topic: Are these ubiquitous machines, and the social media they inject into our heads, addictive?

Some self-styled Masters of the Tech Universe seem to think so; a number of them have tried to limit their own kids’ screen time to protect their vulnerable noggins from the apps other Techies cook up in their coding cauldrons.

Yet, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, many Tech Masters aggressively deny that their products can be dangerous or addictive. To unpack this conundrum, let’s look at some studies, read what the Masters themselves say about their products’ potential for teen harm and addiction, and then take an at-home addiction test.

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The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain.   

Robert Burns (1785)


Those of my Dear Readers who follow Light at Sea may remember an earlier version of this post I published 365 days ago. Why post it again? Because it’s a reminder that New Year’s resolutions are a two-edged sword and should be made, if at all, carefully and realistically. Second, I’ve been working on humility, and reading it again reminds me that I have a strong streak of hypocrisy that evokes this clever saying I heard in an AA meeting recently: “Take my advice; I’m not using it.” To wit, last December 31, although I cautioned against making New Year’s resolutions at all, I still made some, and then failed to keep most of ’em. That a few were torpedoed by forces majeure (a wildfire followed by a breakthrough Delta case) is a lame excuse.

So, here we go again, with cites to some updated studies, one of my own silly stories, and some thoughts on mitigating the frustrations involved in making these insane promises to ourselves (and to others–who don’t care anyway).

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(Why impostor syndrome is itself an impostor.)

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.

If, Rudyard Kipling


Fred Rogers may have liked us just the way we are, but most of us don’t share his upbeat opinion. We gnash our teeth and silently scream, “I hate myself!” We’re sure that any success that might have drifted our way was just luck, not ability.

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No [person] left behind. USMC


“It takes a village.” “There’s strength in numbers.”  These wise cliches notwithstanding, so many of us lead lives of isolation, a physical reality and harmful state of mind that are being exacerbated day after day as COVID cases increase. Today, I will talk about combating the depression and fear that loneliness often brings.

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