We Are All Prisoners of Our Own Device – Meaning

Have you ever wanted something very badly, only to find that when you got it, it actually made you feel worse than you felt before? It’s a sucky feeling but not an uncommon one. 

If you’re seeking an interesting phrase to describe this phenomenon, you’ve come to the right place.

We Are All Prisoners of Our Own Device – Meaning

We are all prisoners of our own device” means that it’s the plans we make and the goals we seek to achieve that ultimately lead to our downfalls. It’s a cautionary phrase, advising us to be wary of indulging our desires. Furthermore, it first appears in the Eagles’ Hotel California.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • “We are all prisoners of our own device” is a grammatically correct phrase.
  • The phrase means that we’re often trapped by our own plans and desires.
  • It’s originally from the Eagles’ song Hotel California.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “device” as:

  • A method that is used to produce a particular effect.
  • An object or machine that has been invented for a particular purpose.

The phrase “we are all prisoners of our own device” can have both these meanings applied to it. Firstly, the plans we make and the methods we apply can end up trapping us in bad situations. Additionally, in our consumer-driven society, objects and machines often guide these plans.

Previously, the Eagles have stated that Hotel California is partially about our relationship with commerce. One of the song’s other lyrics is:

  • Her mind is Tiffany-twisted/she got the Mercedes bends.

Tiffany and Mercedes (two luxury brands) have consumed this woman’s thoughts and corrupted her mind. 

In addition, this phrase is used to discuss both material devices and schemes, as illustrated in the examples below:

  • Person 1: She cares more about how her life looks than how it’s actually going. She just bought a Mercedes even though she’s broke!
  • Person 2: Well, we are all prisoners of our own devices.
  • Person 1: I spent so long trying to break him up with his girlfriend, and now that we’re dating, I don’t even like him anymore!
  • Person 2: We are all prisoners of our own devices.

We Are All Prisoners of Our Own Device – Song

The phrase “we are all prisoners of our own device” comes from the Eagles’ iconic 1976 song, Hotel California. The full lyric goes:

  • Mirrors on the ceiling/the pink champagne on ice, and she said/“We are all just prisoners here/of our own device”

Hotel California is a notoriously mysterious song and the ambiguous lyrics have long been hotly debated by fans seeking to decide on the one true meaning of the tune.

One popular interpretation is that it’s about the trap of celebrity and Hollywood. So, in this scenario, the “device” that makes people “prisoners” is their longing for success and stardom. Sadly, when they reach the top, they find out that celebrity isn’t as fun and shiny as it appears from the outside.

Eagles member Don Henley had this to say about the story hiding in Hotel California’s lyrics:

  •  It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.

However, the great thing about art is that you can interpret it for yourself. As such, it’s perfectly okay for you to decide what Hotel California means to you personally and stick with that.

We Are All Prisoners of Our Own Device – Synonyms

So, “we are all prisoners of our own device” means that we personally create the obstacles and barriers that we go on to feel trapped by. Likewise, the below synonyms are all phrases that also articulate this idea:

  • You made your bed, now you have to lie in it
  • We reap what we sow
  • A prison of my own making
  • A self-built prison
  • You are the architect of your own destruction

Phrases That Mean the Opposite of “We Are All Prisoners of Our Own Device”

As the phrase “we are all prisoners of our own device” emphasizes our personal control of our destiny, consequently the opposite is any phrase that implies we lack control of our fate

The original phrase indicates that we should take responsibility for the choices we make that lead to negative consequences.

Therefore, as an alternative, consider Shakespeare’s famous “star-crossed lovers”, Romeo and Juliet. Whatever choices they made, they couldn’t escape their unhappy fate, because the stars were not in their favor.

  • Victims of destiny
  • Victims of fate
  • Man plans and God laughs

Correct Ways to Say “We Are All Prisoners of Our Own Device”

You might encounter a few variations of this phrase. Most notably, there’s the quote as it first appears in the lyrics to Hotel California:

  • We are all just prisoners here of our own device

Other variations include:

  • We are just prisoners here of our own device
  • We are all prisoners here of our own device