Oh, a writer likes caffeine. Oh, big shock. Yeah, that’s not the issue: it’s that I didn’t always like coffee—and, in fact, I consider coffee to be emblematic of a deep issue with modern society.
The problem is, I drink coffee anyway. I can’t escape the issue—the vortex—of the need of that black nectar. Or the embrace of certain tea or other similar drinks depending on your preference. Depending on how deep a hole you’ve dug yourself for the sake of productive actions.
Here’s my problem, and it’s not really the coffee: it’s the need for coffee. Caffeine, as far as I can tell, and as far as the literature says, has limited, if any, downsides. The buzz comes with minimal side effects except the dependency. But, there is an issue, and the issue is this:
We live in a world that so deeply cares about its need to conform to a schedule it can’t allow wiggle room for those who don’t fit. If you don’t get enough sleep, if insomnia claims you, if something—anything—keeps you up, the solution is not to go back to sleep, it’s to medicate yourself so you don’t need rest, at least cosmetically and from your own internal perception.
Science shows how sleep is stupid important, and yet we abandon rest if we need to, if we must, and I’m not different. I do it too. I will keep doing it if necessary. The central machine of human industry, our ever-churning world, depends on people being awake and alert, and, for other systemic reasons, we need a chemical to navigate around people’s inability to claim sweet z’s.
I mean, sure, the individual’s at fault if they do not have enough sleep—and really it is not just the world’s relentless climb for currency that leads a person into a caffeine habit. No one needs to binge television shows, party with friends, stay up late reading, talk into the A.M., ride inspiration to its conclusion, go on a nightly adventure, or push forward just one more moment to continue talking to a new love or old companion.
But, maybe they do. Responsibility is one thing: a necessary thing, but, life is life, and people need more than the cubicle and a paycheck. I’m using a cliché here: we do not live to work. We work to live.
But, we only drink caffeine to work (or for the experience of the buzz/taste). Even if it seems that those words are not the case all the time: the end purpose of caffeine, by itself, without the transfer method considered, is for various permutations of work. Sure, you might in the moment be using it to stay awake so you can party longer—but you only to do that because you’re tired from work or school or parenting or some other life thing.
And I am not disparaging work. What would humans be without something to reach for, something to do with our time and energy? There is nothing wrong with work—I love my work. I love it to bits. I’m just pointing out that there is something deeply off if our world requires humans to modify themselves with a drink because a world made by humans doesn’t account for human behavior.
I’m in favor of transhumanism and humans using technology to make things easier, and perhaps my issues with people using caffeine is hypocritical on my part. Using a phone to remember upcoming appointments is just another artificial shortcut for human’s biological limitations after all, no different from an energy producing beverage in basic intent. Furthermore, perhaps cellphones are more detrimental to human society and emotional and empathetic development in homo sapiens than coffee will ever claim. Science certainly has much to say on that.
But, hey, I never stated I had an actual answer. I just said I had a moral issue. Maybe, once I have my second cup of black tea, I’ll come up with something. But, I am rather busy. I’ll see if my handheld A.I. can remind me to handle that deep philosophical debate when I get a moment.
When I have some available time.