Music: it can be so inspiring, moving and piercing. A good song carries the visceral capacity to stir you up. It’s an intangible form of expression and release, but also an art to indulge in. The right song can do wonders for your self-esteem and captivate you in ways beyond your control. Music has a way of speaking to those seemingly hidden places in your mind, eliciting an emotion you never knew was there; inspiring a thought, an idea, a dream, a vision. It’s become our most common source of joy and refuge, something many of us turn to as a means of escaping reality, even if it is for just a few minutes. Music, to me, is the most powerful and persuasive art form there is. And that is the danger of it. While it is seemingly sweet, it can also be subtly deceptive.


Like most, I’ve always thought that listening to music was nothing more than a harmless hobby. It wasn’t until I suffered the repercussions of loving music a little too much that I realized the truth about its effect on the mind. The often overlooked aspect of most music is that it stands as an external source of ideas, views and principles. For this reason, for the listener, it has the ability to shift the way you think and what you think about. It can also influence your behaviors and how you interact with and experience the world around you.


When I emerge myself in the melody, lyrics and overall essence of a song I really like, it takes me to another place. It no longer becomes solely about the song or the artist but more so about my emotions. It’s about how the song makes me feel, what I think about when I’m listening to it, and its relation to me. I find that it takes little to no time at all for me to get lost in the essence of a song that I love, and a lot of times that song turns into a distraction. Most of us will plug in when we have the intention of focusing on something. I like to listen to music when I write or when I’m working out. I think a lot of us turn on the stereo when we get to cleaning the house or when we’re cooking. We use music as an outlet to get us stirred up in our own thoughts, to distract us from the not so amusing tasks we’re doing or at least to help us keep at it without growing bored.


Besides that, think about your choice in music during these scenarios. When working out, you wouldn’t listen to a sappy love song. You might turn on something with an upbeat tempo, something that will get you excited about getting into shape. In contrast, when you’re not feeling the best, on the days when you’re in a more or less unhappy mood you’d most likely listen to a song that can better aid you in delving deeper into those feelings. With that being said, it’s apparent that in many scenarios music serves as a means of escape. It gives us the chance to get away with thinking too much and overall gets us caught up in our feelings. Which begs the question, in what case is being overly emotional ever a good thing?


Music is an undeniably beautiful and a truly captivating form of art and in many ways it can be a satisfying thing to indulge in. However, when used to fill an emotional void, it can very easily become a crutch that enables us to revel too deeply in our thoughts. It is imperative to be selective about what you subject your mind to, and it is even more crucial that you decide when and how often you plug in. Believe it or not, your mental well-being is on the line every time you do. So be choosy about what you listen to and recognize that while music is inspiring and comforting, it can also be dangerous.


Tarah Dove is a 20-year-old, an aspiring journalist, professional writing student studying at York University and living in Toronto, Canada. She is also a cultural activist, mental health advocate and hip-hop culture connoisseur. Connect with her on twitter @_tarahdove.