Millennials responsible for coining the term FOMO — fear of missing out — are probably familiar (if only for a brief moment in time) with social isolation. Or that feeling of loneliness that comes from a lack of social relationships.
Science continually finds social isolation is harmful to a person’s health. It can tax their immune system, increase risk for inflammation, which can then lead to other diseases like diabetes, as well as morbidity and mortality. But what if there was a way to see if people around the world were nursing the same feelings as you? What if someone in Brazil were getting by with a little help from Sam Smith, Katy Perry, or Coldplay, too? Because Spotify’s Serendipity now makes it so you can tell.
Serendipity is an online map that provides real-time data of users listening to the same songs over a one-hour period. Speaking to The Verge, Kyle McDonald, Spotify's artist-in-residence, said that "25-50 million people are listening to music [on Spotify] at any moment, and 10,000 to 20,000 songs are started every second!" An incredibly cool feature, for sure, but Serendipity may fulfill more than your need to crowd-source songs for another playlist. Without even knowing it, the map provides a literal sense of community that could benefit those who feel isolated.
Music, according to research from Concordia University, is akin to medicine. It can inspire, transport, educate, entertain, even heal. No matter the audience, music has the power to spark a dialogue with someone through rhythm and sound. And whether someone is listening to Bach or the blues, a person’s brain is wired to connect that music to a corresponding color depending on how the melody makes them feel, according to a study from the University of California-Berkeley.
"Surprisingly, we can predict with 95 percent accuracy how happy or sad the colors people pick will be based on how happy or sad the music is that they are listening to," Stephen Palmer, lead study author and vision scientist at UC Berkeley, said in a press release. In Palmer’s study, participants picked bright, warm colors when listening to upbeat music and dark, cool colors when listening to sad or tearful music. That means that if two Spotify users are getting ready to relieve stress by running to Jessie J’s “Bang, Bang”, or are working through a break-up by blasting Ariana Grande’s “Problem,’ they were probably seeing the same colors.
It's all based on the idea that another user, who you've never met, may feel or see things in a similar way, thus making you feel less alone.