These days there is a lack of real human connection, and it’s important to build bridges to overcome this. Our world should be a very connected world because of the internet and all the different ways that space has stopped being an issue.
Hideo Kojima, the creator of the videogame Death Stranding says: “We’re in an era of individualism,” he said “Everyone is fractured. Even on the internet. It’s all connected, all around the world, but everyone is fighting each other.”
Without delving too deep on the plot of the game, the idea is to rebuiled a fractured isolated society, and in our world, while this is not a reality yet, it very well might be, and one of our strongest line of defense against this is music.
Music as a Bridge
According to a research made back in 2013 by Stefan Koelsch, music psychologist at the Freie University, Berlin, there are four main ways in which music can help build a connection and strengthen bonds with other people.
It helps with learning how to work well with others, which is a very important quality to have since many things involve teamwork and knowing how to be confindent and confortable while working in large groups.
Playing music in a band or singing in a choir certainly involves cooperation as well—whether in preparation for the performance or during the performance. Arguably, cooperation increases trust between individuals and increases one’s chances of future cooperation—important factors in human evolutionary success and societal stability.
Bonding with other people is also encouraged by music at hormonal level, which is actually rather fascinating since most people don’t realize how much music can affect our bodies.
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide affiliated with breast-feeding and sexual contact, is known to play an important role in increasing bonding and trust between people. Now researchers are discovering that music may affect oxytocin levels in the body.
Also another study showed how music helps with relaxation. Being relaxed may not be a bridge but it is a state that allows us to be more open and easy going, and while being relaxed, building connections can be easier.
Though the study was more focused on the relaxation properties of music than on oxytocin specifically, it still suggests that music directly impacts oxytocin levels, which, in turn, affect our ability to trust and act generously toward others—factors that increase our social connection.
There is also a very reflective side to music, because it has been proven that music allows not only to make real person to person connection but it also allows our minds to make connections and understand things about ourselves.
Music has been shown to activate many areas of the brain, including the circuit that helps us to understand what others are thinking and feeling, and to predict how they might behave—a social skill scientists call “theory of mind,” which is linked to empathy.
Connection between different cultures and groups is also one of the bridges built with music. There is no denying that music is a universal language and this helps build trust and a sense of familiarity between human beings no matter where they come from.
Nowadays, music has the potential to make us feel connected to all of humanity. The more we use music to bring us together—literally and figuratively—the more potential for increased empathy, social connection, and cooperation. I, for one, feel more connected to my human ancestors just knowing that someone took the time to carve that flute, succumbing to the primal urge to make music. It’s an urge I share. Perhaps we all do.
It’s not just pleasure and entertainment, there is something deeper and more meaningful to what makes music so important for humanity, and although it keeps changing, it will always bring us these amazing consecuences.