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I had a great weekend.

On Saturday night, I went to a silent disco for the first time. If you’ve never heard of one or don’t know exactly what they’re all about, here’s the gist: instead of the music being blasted through the speakers at the venue, guests wear headphones. Each set of headphones has access to three different channels piping sets by live DJs into your ears. In the case of the silent disco I went to, there was a hip-hop channel, a rock channel, and a Top 40 channel (all from the 90s and 00s, which is what motivated me to go).

The headphones light up with a different color to indicate what channel you’re listening to so that you can groove with your friends, find your people by music taste, or see what channel is the most popular at any given time (when Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone was playing, everyone’s headphones were red).

I had an amazing time. I loved the music (they were my formative years after all), but there was so much more to love about the event, like:

  • The variety in the music (plus the option to switch channels increased the variety)
  • You could customize your party—I bet no two people listened to the exact same songs the whole night
  • I could play the music at whatever volume I wanted
  • If I wanted to talk to a friend, we just had to take our headphones off; no need to scream over the music (same goes for ordering drinks)
  • I could watch people react to hearing the intro of a song I couldn’t (yet) hear and decide if I wanted to listen to that channel, too (at one point, I was listening the the rock channel and could tell from others’ dance moves that the hip hop channel was playing Flo Rida’s Low—and yes, I switched to that channel)

I first learned about the silent disco concept from the Netflix show, Atypical. The main character is neurodivergent and struggles with being overstimulated. For an episode with a school dance, they go the silent disco route in order to make the experience more inclusive and accessible. What an amazing solution!

I highly recommend going to one if you get the chance and haven’t had the pleasure yet.

On Sunday, well…it was Super Bowl Sunday. I haven’t been to a Super Bowl party in years and didn’t go this year either, but a friend of mine was traveling and asked if I wanted to text during it.

We do that sometimes with movies—we’ll pick one on Netflix and then sync up when we press “play” and then text reactions as we watch. Do people still live-Tweet things now that we stream content whenever is convenient for us? I imagine so, for live events like awards shows and major sporting events. Anyway, it’s like that, but private. Less pressure to be hilarious. (Though we are.)

The thing these two events have in common is a communal aspect. But more than that, it’s connecting with others, synchronously, with the help of technology like headphones, TV, cell phones.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been mindlessly scrolling on Instagram more than I’d like lately. And while in many ways, I get a mood boost from it (thanks to all the pit bull and gardening accounts I follow), I also feel a sense of disconnection because so much of the content is already stale (thanks, algo), or worse: ads. Activities like the silent disco and texting during the Super Bowl are great examples of using technology for good, which is to say, to make me happy.

My weekend of real-time connection was just what I needed to (literally) shake things up.

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