Monday, September 13th, 2010
Earlier this year, this most tangible of indulgences made its online debut. Audio drugs, called I-dosing, are monotonous, droning or pulsing audio tracks that supposedly replicate the effects of various drugs.
The tracks, when listened to on stereo headphones, create a binaural beat, which sounds like it’s coming from inside the skull, and occurs when each ear hears a tone at a slightly different frequency. Binaural beats were discovered in the 1800’s and neuroscientists have been trying since to determine whether they could be used to manipulate brain waves therapeutically. With tracks designed to reproduce the sensations of mushrooms, marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine, among others, I-dosing is certainly the most popular use found for them so far.
There has been skepticism as to how effective the tracks are, but there are also videos circulating online of teenagers freaking out, shaking and cringing while listening to them. Concerned parent organizations warn that whether or not kids are getting high from I-dosing, their interest in the phenomenon shows a willingness to experiment with drugs.
People are discussing how well they work and what they might lead to, but is anyone taking the time to be saddened by I-dosing’s cheapening and homogenization of an important teenage rite of passage?
For too many kids, experimentation with drugs leads to long-term addiction or other, more dangerous crimes, but for millions of others, it’s just a fun and important part of growing up.
Generations from now, if I-dosing replaces real drugs completely, I can’t help but feel that they would miss out on so much of being a teenager. They wouldn’t have any impetus to approach older, badder kids who would teach them not only about drugs and safely breaking the law, but also about music, film and culture. They would never get to smoke that first joint behind the gym, giggling as they look nervously over their shoulder for an approaching authority figure. They wouldn’t have to think of resourceful ways to cover up the smell of synthesizers. They will be able to download whatever “drugs” they want from the comfort of their bedrooms, alone. The camaraderie of drug buddies is akin to that of war buddies, and if drug use becomes one of the many things that is done with only the company of a computer screen, they will cease to exist.
One great thing about drug culture has always been its position on the periphery, observing society from the outside and not going along with every trend. If even drugs are being swept up by the digital revolution, made soulless and impersonal, what’s left?
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