May 12, 2011
I wonder if one could produce a website that is designed to directly manipulate the body chemistry of viewers. Think of it as video drug therapy.
We know that the things we experience in life have an immediate impact on our body chemistry. If you watch a sad movie, you get sad. If you listen to upbeat music, you get excited. If you watch porn, you get aroused. So the principle is well-established. How far could you take it if you got all scientific about it?
Let’s take a specific example. Suppose you want to boost a man’s testosterone levels, perhaps so he can more easily build muscles, perform better on certain tasks, be more attractive to women, or simply experience a greater sense of well-being. Would it be possible to put together a series of sounds and images involving victory, conquest, and power that directly manipulates a man’s testosterone level? I think the answer is yes. Although my guess is that you’d need to create a continuous stream of new images to make it work more than once. And you might want to keep a lid on the sexual imagery so it’s socially acceptable and he can view it anywhere.
How about oxytocin? That’s the chemical your body produces when you hug or fall in love or make love. It simply makes you feel good. Could you produce a series of sounds and images that directly boost oxytocin? I’ll bet the answer is yes.
Movies are already designed to manipulate the chemistry of viewers. But a good movie will take you from one end of the spectrum to the other. That’s like starving you so your next meal tastes extra good. I think it would make more sense to develop media that does nothing but move you in the right direction, chemistry-wise. Ideally, this content could be consumed a few minutes at a time from any phone or web browser. A big advantage of this approach is that, compared to movies, the content would be less expensive to produce.
I also wonder if one could make money producing what I will call “social porn.” I’ll define that as a movie that involves no sex whatsoever, but plenty of violations of social norms. Imagine watching a film in which the actor can slap anyone he wants, make his boss wash his car, and make strangers get on all fours and bark like dogs. Like regular porn, you wouldn’t try too hard to inject a plot. It’s more about a series of scenes that can be produced on a shoestring budget with untalented actors. And again the point of it would be to generate specific chemical changes in the viewer.
I assume this so-called social porn would need a wide variety of approaches to capture everyone’s tastes. Women might have their own genre that involves – I have no idea what. I won’t presume to guess what that would look like. I’m just saying it won’t be a one-size-fits-all situation.
A video chemistry website would be easy to monetize. Advertisers would have a good idea what kind of ads to feed to the site based on what sort of material the user selects. For example, you know that men would be asking for the testosterone boosting content and women would be asking for the – again, I have no idea. That’s what the science is for. You’d need to do a lot of testing before you knew what worked. But it all seems doable.
Update: Commenter Jayne points us to two videos on youtube that totally crank your body chemistry in a good way. I have field tested both videos and they are awesome: