I sometimes have dreams where I’m checking Twitter. This is bad news for me and my social media usage, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into how flexible our brains are.
My dreams look like this: I’m interacting with the Twitter web app, clicking around between notifications and mentions, struggling to follow the information coming my way. But notably, my body isn’t there. There isn’t even a monitor and keyboard through which I’m interacting with Twitter. My consciousness basically is Twitter.
In these dreams I don’t use a pair of hands to interface with a keyboard and trackpad, I don’t have a head from which I view the screen at a distance. My field of experience is comprised of the feed and the notification tab and the profile tab and so on, and my self is the cursor navigating around in the screen.
Notwithstanding any error in my memory of these dreams, I find it to be a demonstration of how flexible our mind is in conceptualizing our self—the agent in the “middle” of our consciousness that chooses actions from a space of possibilities. My mind is capable of constructing self-as-cursor, and I imagine it could construct the self in all kinds of other creative ways. (And from meditation, I know my mind can deconstruct the self as much as it can construct it.)
My experience reminds me of a friend’s description of his dreams playing chess. There was a period where he was playing a ton of online chess, and he started having dreams of the game, but again, there wasn’t really anything in his field of consciousness outside the game—it was the game and darkness.