Living in the Digital Age

Connection two persons

In a world permeated by technology, it’s hard not to become immersed in it. The patterns we create in our brains become habits, and the habits become our lives.  And in 2018, it’s hard to think of life without the great worldwide web. I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about the fact that the majority of my time is spent looking at a screen and pressing buttons, I freak out and have a mini-meltdown.

According to most, I’m considered a “millennial,”  – a term I have never been quite comfortable with as I have lived half of my life with technology, and the other half , without it.

I was born in 1981, back when the internet was still a pipe dream, and the only kind of media people knew about were the newspapers and reporters on TV.

As a teenager in the 1990’s, the only interaction I had with the internet was when I was in high school and hogged my parent’s phone line with AOL’s dial-up internet. I was never on the internet for very long, though as my mom or dad, twenty minutes after logging in, would yell out from the living room, “Honey, I have to use the phone – only five more minutes, okay?”

In 2002, I studied advertising, as a college student in New York City, and read about a new thing in the industry they were calling, “interactive television.” At the time I thought it was a nutty idea and privately doubted the possibility of it ever becoming a reality.  But with the rise of the internet and its seemingly endless possibilities, we now pretty much have interactive television  with streaming media channels like Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and Amazon Prime, among many more.

But despite all the technological advances of the digital age, none of it has lived up to my childhood fantasies. When I was little, I always imagined that my adult life would be like “The Jetsons.” Who doesn’t want a robot maid and flying cars? So, as much as I like technology, I’m also a little disappointed, as it never became as wondrous as my childhood fantasies. But technology is a changing sphere, full of more innovation than any other industry. And I, for one, secretly hope my Jetson’s dreams will one day be a reality, complete with a life on Mars and an apartment that orbits the sky. It’s possible, right?

Why Music Matters

534477776-612x612

Have you ever wondered why you remember your favorite song more than your favorite book? You know, that one song that’s always playing in your head?

Well, it turns out that when our brains listen to music they produce dopamine – that feel good chemical we all love and crave.

Even as we get older and slowly lose our motor skills and memory, we still recognize our favorite tune the minute we hear it. This is because listening to music pretty much uses almost every aspect of our brain – from the hippocampus to the nervous system, as well as our auditory cortex, among many, many more. Think of it like this – if every part of your brain was hooked up to wires, they would light up an electrical storm the minute you started listening to a song you like. Pretty cool, huh?

What’s even more mesmerizing, though, is that people with severe brain damage can still enjoy listening to music just as much as anyone else. For instance, I met an elderly lady who had such severe dementia that when she talked her words came out all muffled and jumbled. But when she heard one of her favorite Motown songs she immediately started dancing and singing to the song in perfect enunciation. It was mind blowing, to say the least.

Music is pretty powerful, to say the least. Listening to certain kinds of music can even reduce anxiety, improve your mood and lower your blood pressure, among many other things.

Studies have shown that people who play an instrument activated more neuron communication throughout both the right and left sides of the brain, aiding in learning new skills, motor skills, verbal and non-verbal reasoning and even a better memory!

So, the next time you hear that song playing in your head, remember to relish the moment as your brain is most likely in seventh heaven, since it is now able to use every single tool it has up there.

Good times, indeed.