You awaken to the sound of your customized morning alarm.

You grab your phone, peering inside the object in your palm — a window into a world of lights and motion. Icons decorate the top bar, hearts and like symbols display a connection to another person for less than a fraction of a second. An email from your sister connects you for 30 seconds as she tells you about that trip she took; an email from work reminds you that you need to respond to that other email from yesterday, and it also reminds you that you still have to take care of that pile on your desk. Another heart symbol appears above, connecting you with an old friend from high school for a fraction of a second.

You pull your head out of the abyss for a moment, and the room is dark. Quiet. The black-out curtains are still, and the sounds of morning traffic rumble in the background as the city begins to awaken. You sit up on the side of your bed, and peek back at your phone.

Someone shared a post of yours from last night, and several people have already liked it. One is that attractive girl who was a friend of a friend, but you’re not sure if they still hang out. Does that mean anything? Probably not. The other is from your brother-in-law. He likes everything you post. An email slides in front, covering the likes and the shares. It’s from a client, and he doesn’t seem happy. He never seems happy. Emails from him put that pit in your stomach and keep your brain locked in. Locked into what? I don’t know. Forgetting about it now is only going to help you through the day, so you push it to the side of your mind until you can address it at work. Another like. Someone comments on a photo: “Nice! Miss you <3” and you like their comment. That was nice of them, you think. You scroll down through pictures of new babies, alleged iron-clad relationships and you shuffle past the political memes. One catches your eye, and you type a response. You close the entire app before you press send. You know better than to engage in politics on social media.