Whether I work in visual innovation or just act as a reporter, I made my career out of immersing myself headlong into ideas I don’t know about.
The fresher and more complex the puzzle to be solved, the more I intervene and go from the unknown to the known. And if I’m lucky, I’ll get an all-day adrenaline rush and some unusual dreams in return for my services.
When I started, I was a news journalist – a job where I wrote up to six messages a day. Furthermore, the pressure to understand every word at a presidential press conference, for example, can be insanely intense and require such unimaginable attention. The only comparison I could draw would be day trading cryptocurrencies.
And like crypto, my work would often visit me late into the night. Once in bed, I felt a cursor blink just behind my peripheral field of vision, or I saw foggy headlines being written and rewritten so that they would not exceed their character boundaries.
“US. President seeks a deal with Iran about …” Delete, delete, delete. “President demands trust with Iran …” Did I sleep? Did I whisper to myself? The questions were then as they are now.
Even if I picked up a box of cereal at the grocery store during this time, I could have the feeling that computer keys were being smooched between my fingers.
As I learned at the time, what I was experiencing was related to the so-called “Tetris Effect”.
When Tetris was released in the 1980s, people were so addicted to Russian-American engineer Alexey Pajitnov’s video game that they saw and heard it in everything they did.
In fact, a writer for Wired in the early 1990s called the game a “pharmatronics” in terms of its addictive powers.
Commenting on the game, journalist Jeffrey Goldsmith wrote: “For days I sat on a lavender suede sofa angrily playing Tetris. On rare trips out of the house, I visually bring cars and trees and people together. “
Sound familiar? Does anyone see crypto candlesticks?
Pajitnov told Wired, “You can’t imagine that. I couldn’t finish the prototype! I started playing and never had time to finish the code. People played, played, kept playing. My best friend said: ‘I can’t live with your Tetris anymore.’ “
Tetris dreams became a widespread topic of conversation among gamers and psychologists. In fact, psychiatry professor Robert Stickgold and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School found that of those they trained for the game, more than 60% reported dream of images associated with it.
Stickgold argued that these Tetris dreams were simply part of how people process information from our waking hours.
Tetris has also been associated with the “flow state”, the name for the groove you get when you focus so hard on a goal that the world around you melts away.
Kerr agrees that the crypto visions I had mostly late at night sound like the Tetris Effect. But it quickly indicates that our brains are drawn to puzzles, no matter what they are.
“We are natural problem solvers. And crypto is like a big puzzle in some ways. Dreaming has been linked to problem-solving skills. And crypto is a problem that we want to solve and get it right and make money from it, ”says Kerr.