We all have excess energy that we could find healthy and constructive ways to release. Whether you are stress-induced, borderline ADHD, autistic or simply bored and looking to fill idle time, fidget toys are the new sensation that is sweeping the nation at warp speed. Ray’s Lab Fidget Cube, the seemingly overnight sensation, raised 6.4 million as a result of their Kickstarter campaign, far exceeding their original $15,000 fund raising goal. Serving as one of the most economical fidget toys out here; fidget cubes, composed of buttons, dials and switches are definitely a reasonable option when it comes to relieving stress and filling innocuous time.

However, the latest, and insanely more expensive ($117 – $199) trend, is a fidget spinner. The name pretty much explains its primary function but what else does it do? The general goal of fidget spinners is to distract you from your distractions like nail biting, increasing your ability to stay present throughout your day and your ability to self-entertain. Fidget spinners come in copper, titanium, brass and stainless steel and spin for long amounts of time, bewitching the viewer. Think, Leo’s spinning top in the Inception. But unlike the infamous mindf**k movie, this toy obeys the laws of physics and the heavier the toy, the longer the spin with just the flick of a finger. The tradeoff, of course wear and tear caused by frequent use. The spinner eventually grinds down and causes people nearby to hear the fidget toy when spent. In a study done by Forbes, 30% of a handful of spinners became gritty within 3 days to a week. Despite this finding, Forbes still recommends the MD Engineering’s Torqbar and EME Tools’ Rotablade Stubby fidget spinner.

The real fascination of the tri-spinner, however lies not its function but its popularity in general. It’s a strange blip on our collective radar. Our cultural obsessions are exclusively digital, save for this tricked out spinning top. The hottest craze of last summer was Pokemon Go, a global augmented reality game. The good people at Silicon Valley, in their endless quest to render the human being obsolete, are perfecting self-driving cars and who can forget VR the next tech gold rush. The empires of tomorrow will be built on sci-fi technology beyond our craziest daydreams.

And yet…

Something about this humble (in design, not price obviously) mechanical device still speaks to us on a level we cannot fully articulate. A spinning top. A metal device that keeps going longer than we initially think it can and with the slightest energy transferral. Is it reminiscent of the alchemy the ancients spoke of? Does it remind us that human love and kindness aren’t a zero sum game? Is it something different for everybody? The irony of a spinning top is that it’s synecdochic for something not bound by our own limitations. Something we’ve been striving for since the dawn of humankind and are barreling towards in the digital age.

If technology is the pursuit of that dream, the simplicity of that top represents why we want to get there, the drive, the fervor, the hope and anxiety. It brings us back to the basics and reminds of us of how we can use what we have organically to improve the human experience.

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💜Love & Light☀️,
CRISTEN M. MILLS

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