For years, my friend and I argued over the question of her mother's drinking. Did her mother drink so much because she was in pain? Or was she in pain because she drank so much? Of course, both things were true. But which of the things, we always wondered, was more true? Her mother did drink an awful lot. Sometimes she started at breakfast. And didn't stop until sleep came. We got some absurd satisfaction in trying to pinpoint the culprit. As if knowing would save her.

I often have the same argument with myself about technology. Do I feel anxious because I am on my phone so much? Or am I on my phone so much to distract from the boredom and anxiety I feel?