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Parlor tricks or tools of Satan?

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 15, 2010 22:25 EDT
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“Huffington Post has created a computer that generates stories based on click-happy tags.” That was my first thought upon reading this alarmist article about how teenage kids are getting high off the internet. No, I’m not kidding. The headline actually reads: “DIGITAL DRUGS: How Teens Are Using The Internet To Get High”. Clearly, this is a computer-generated headline, I thought. They don’t even care anymore; whatever it takes to get clicks.

But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and actually dig in and read a little more of the story. Unfortunately, I have to report that what I learned wasn’t enough to relieve my concerns. Indeed, the article seemed to be reporting on something that’s actually happening, but their take on it is some of the saddest shit I’ve seen from adults since I saw that evangelical program on an access channel back in college about how Satan reaches kids through not just heavy metal, but backmasking records and even through Whitney Houston.

The trend, called i-Dosing, is a supposedly “legal” and “safe” way to alter one’s consciousness.

According to Kansas News 9, these “digital drugs” use “binaural, or two-toned, technology to alter your brain waves and mental state,” producing a “state of ecstasy” for the user. i-Dosers listen to these atonal tracks while sitting motionless with headphones on.

It may sound benign, but parents, educators and law officials are worried that i-Dosing could be addictive, harmful, and a gateway “drug” to other illegal substances. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs has taken an interest in the phenomenon. “Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about,” the Bureau’s spokesperson Mark Woodward told Kansas News 9, “and it can lead them to other places.”

As someone who spent her teen years in a boring ass small town, I had a strong suspicion that whatever the specifics, that this was almost surely a parlor trick that, because it’s in the hands of teenagers, is being blown up as something it’s not for maximum effect. There wasn’t a parlor trick that we didn’t indulge as kids, and many of them, such as “light as a feather, stiff as a board”, had a pseudo-occult feel to them that gave us all a good scare before we forgot about it a couple hours later. Hey, you got to get your thrills where you can. Eventually most of us discovered sex and left the world of adolescent parlor tricks behind. That this is framed by kids who pass it along as being like drugs should be a relief to parents, because it means said kids have no experience with actual drugs.

I went to YouTube and checked out some videos of “i-Dosing” and my suspicions deepened. First of all, the silly occult stuff is really blatant—one of the songs you can download and “i-Dose” to is called “Gates of Hades”, and it’s just like 20 minutes of repetitive sounds with some shrill shit at the end. It seems the kids kind of put themselves in a trance with the repetitive non-music, and then the loud noises wake them up and they jolt really hard. The reactions on YouTube—the non-fake ones, at least—show that’s all that’s going on. No doubt the kids are exaggerating the effects in order to please their friends who are watching them intently to see their reactions. Any parent who freaks out about this, or thinks it’s a “gateway drug”, appears to be a full-blown moron.

But watching YouTube isn’t science, so instead we at Pandagon HQ had an intrepid reporter put his own safety and sobriety on the line to test this dangerous “drug”. I won’t reveal his identity, but I will say that perhaps at 34 years of age he’s a fine control for these teenagers, as over-dramatic adolescence has no grip on his mind, and as an atheist, he’s not afraid Satan is leaking into his brain through the path of a Garage Band-created synthetic horn playing a repetitive sound. Our reporter subjected himself to the entire length of the track “Gates of Hades” while laying in the dark as instructed. He ended up falling asleep a little bit and then was jolted awake, his heart racing as it does when loud noises wake you up.

Our intrepid reporter discovered that he didn’t get high, but he did feel that he had an adrenaline rush. Sadly, I fear that this will be enough to keep the scaredy-cats stoked on fear, because we live in an era where people are quick to raise alarms about regular hormone fluctuations in the brain, such as those people who suggest that women who have too much sex get their oxytocin receptors burned out. Who are, I suspect, the same people who think that this “i-Dosing” thing is a big scary deal. Adrenaline: the gateway drug to marijuana and crack cocaine. Of course, watching these videos, I have to say these kids seem to be getting a smaller “fix” of adrenaline than you get after the average work out, and way less than when you win the big game or get into the college of your choice. Clearly, in order to keep kids from becoming drug addicts, the only thing we can do is lock them in rooms away from all stimulation and regularly monitor their hormone levels to make sure that nothing related to feelings ever spikes. Because one day you’re feeling the joy of a summer day, and the next day, you’re sucking cock for bits of heroin. Just say no, people.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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