Music considered harmful

By ChatGPT and dkl9, written 2023-130, revised 2023-171 (1 revisions)

Do you mentally play back songs long after they stopped playing? This is what we call an earworm, and it's a nuisance. With the current ubiquity and repetition of music, it's almost impossible to avoid earworms, a problem that we need to address. Music, in nearly all types and forms, harms us. We should listen to and produce it much more selectively, if at all.

Music clouds our thoughts. Earworms can be annoying and disruptive, making it difficult to concentrate on anything else. The constant exposure to repetitive and appealing music makes it even harder to prevent and stop earworms. This is especially prevalent in our current environment, where music is played in the background of many places. It's too easy to get lost in music and forget what's really important.

Common lyrics are also harmful. Many songs focus on unimportant topics. When the topics are important, they tend to discuss them in non-novel, foolish, or unproductive ways. This subliminally and unhelpfully biases people's beliefs on these matters. The lyrics of some songs offend or promote negative messages — not the kind of influence we need in our lives.

Music can also tempt people into making it a career. While this may seem delightful, it's risky for the individuals and harmful to society. Many aspiring musicians struggle to make a living and end up in debt. The pressure to succeed can lead to substance abuse and other harmful behaviors. Furthermore, if very many pursued music as a career (a "very many" we've reached long ago), we'd have a surplus of musicians and a suboptimal supply of other essential professions.

There are exceptions to these trends of harmful music. There is a small amount of music providing distinctive long-term benefits, such as those that exploit music's memorability to encode useful, meaningful, or organized information. For example, songs that teach the periodic table or other educational content can be helpful. However, these exceptions are few and far between.

The negative effects of nearly all music outweigh any potential benefits. Let us recognise the harmful distraction that music is and reduce our exposure thereto. Let us focus on what really matters and not get lost in the endless stream of pathological earworms.