“Want a joint”?
It seems counterintuitive that alcohol remains legal in every state of the U.S. while marijuana is still completely illegal in 21 states and at the federal level. Offering a joint to your guest when they arrive for a dinner party may not be as commonplace as offering them a drink, but its safe to say that marijuana and alcohol are the most popular escapes for the daily stresses of life. Even more, both have their share of use in human history, Egyptian builders had rations of beer, and marijuana crops were some of mankind’s first, going back some 12,000 years. There is some more recent history about these two popular party activities.
Some of the consequences to those party activities say a lot about why some states are moving towards legalizing marijuana. Alcohol was responsible for 88,000 deaths from 2006-2010. Marijuana is reportedly not responsible for any deaths during the same four-year period. Driving under the influence of marijuana increases your risk of having an accident by 83%. Which is not good but, driving with a blood alcohol level of just .05, increases your risk of an accident by 575%. Two thirds of domestic abuse cases involve alcohol, while a recent study showed that couples who have been smoking marijuana could decrease the likelihood of violence.
Despite these facts that would seem to point to alcohol being the more dangerous recreational substance, there are still those that would say marijuana is worse and should not be legalized. With more and more states moving towards the decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana, we will soon see just what affect this may have on the US.
Dumber and the Internet
It seems counterintuitive that this thing that we have created, the internet, could be making us dumber. We have all heard the saying “I’ll google it”, and maybe some have even contemplated the implications of that statement. It sounds so good, like, I don’t know the answer, but I can find out quickly. It is as if some how the fact that we can perform a google search somehow makes us more resourceful. Or maybe it just makes us less accountable, less likely to master some content that we find interesting.
Now why would we be less likely to master such content, one study done at UCLA in 2008, showed what happens to our brain during a google search and found that there was more activity in the pre-frontal cortex. More activity should be a good thing but the other side of this is that the brain in working overtime to sort the information presented. One web page may contain 100’s of hyperlinks and each time we encounter one we must decide; should I click on that? And just this simple distraction, occurring repeatedly, keeps us from really getting into whatever material we were searching for in the first place.
We learn by making connections in our brain, called synapses. Using the internet is rewiring our brains and making it harder for us to make these synapses, making it harder to comprehend and retain information.
It seems counterintuitive that less is more, but today that may never be more true than ever. In a world of online shopping, people can partake in virtual shopping 24 hours a day. We are buying more and more “stuff” and maybe simply because we can. What happens when all this stuff actually takes away from our quality of life? At what point does worrying about setting up that new tech that we just had to have, and syncing the old tech with the new tech, stop helping and start hurting?
In a study done at UCLA, 32 middle class families were studies and they found that all the mother’s cortisol levels spiked when dealing with their belongings. In the US we have an 22 billion dollar industry solely responsible for storing all this “stuff” that we needed so badly. We are consuming more than ever and this over-consumption has implications beyond our own personal health and extends to the world.
There is a trend starting though to live small. A trend that may just save us all.