I love a good movie!

Even better, I love a good movie at the movie theater! How about you? From the time he was in elementary school, and really until after he got married, my son and I would always go watch a Marvel movie together on or near his birthday. We often invited a few of his friends to go along. I really love reflecting back on those memories!

You wanna know why movies are better at the theater? It’s not the super huge screen, the thundering surround sound, the overpriced popcorn, sodas or candy. It’s certainly not the $50+ it’ll cost a couple people to enjoy all those things (unless you go to the matinee, get student or senior discounts, and skip all the frills, maybe sneak in a snack or two of your own).

I mean, come on. The screens and sound systems in many of our own homes are almost as nice. And home seating is usually more preferable than even the best reclining movie theater seats. I have to mention, our floors are usually way cleaner! Also, we don’t have as much risk of people around us making noises or making out. Though we still might have people checking their handheld screens during the movie – a serious annoyance of mine! I might digress though if I go there…so to stay on point…

There’s still something special, even superior, about going to see the movie in the theater.

It’s a really interesting term called social synapse to describe it.

No one is an island. And no one is meant to live on an island. Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland in Castaway turned a volleyball into his “friend”, Wilson, so he would have someone to talk to (with) on his island. We are truly wired for connection. Isolation is a death sentence for us. If not literally, then emotionally, mentally, physically, and even spiritually! Dr. Lou Cozolino puts it this way:

“We are not the survival of the fittest. We are the survival of the nurtured.”

Social synapse is the psychological term to describe what happens when people connect through shared experience. Thanks to work of Donald Hebb, who coined the phrase neurons that fire together wire together, we understand the importance of how neural pathways grow stronger when the brain is directed to repeat certain tasks. What’s really cool, is that when that happens, the brain then protects those neurons by wrapping layers of myelin around them so they stay together. This is called myelination, and causes their transmission ability to speed up, too – so we can access those protected neural pathways easier, faster!

Isn’t that cool?!

In more recent years, researchers have come to understand that this same phenomenon applies to people and the neural connections we share. When the theater is full, and everyone gasps, laughs, shudders, jumps, or even ducks at the same moment, their experience of that moment is greatly enhanced by the shared aspect of it. So the movie is literally better!

Am I the only one geeking out a bit?

Neuroscientists have also identified what’s known as mirror neurons, which act exactly the same in our brains when we do or see someone do something. For instance, when my son was a toddler and I would spoon feed him, it was really difficult for me to not open my mouth when moving the spoon laden with baby food towards his mouth. It tickled me then, though I didn’t understand the science behind it. I’m laughing now, just thinking about it! This is not the same thing as social synapse, but it is related. We connect in real ways with others, to the point of mirroring them, often without cognitive recognition, just by being close to them – even without touch. It’s true that so much of what we communicate with others is non-verbal, and much of it is brain-to-brain.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatened us on a deeper level than just our physical health. The isolation it brought about plummeted many into depression and disorders. We desperately need one another! Part of being healthy is found in connection with others. I learned that Hong Kong is lifting their mask mandate as of March 1 – more than three years since the pandemic started. Three years!! Three years of fear and isolation, disconnectedness, social distancing. The mental health toll may not be fully realized for decades!

One of the best ways that neurons fire and wire together is through the practice of gratitude. I know some people who have a gratitude journal, and they tell me it helps them in huge ways with their emotional challenges, and greatly improves their outlook and ability to connect with others. Hmm…so a practice that helps me be more self-integrated also helps me integrate in healthy ways with others.

To practice some gratitude now…I’m grateful for the opportunity to blog, to study, to learn, understand, and practice new concepts (firing & wiring those neurons). I’m really grateful that we, collectively, have survived the terrible Covid pandemic! I’m really thankful I can now meet up with and connect with others with minimal threat of contracting the potentially fatal virus! I’m grateful for yoga, which helps me connect the practices of gratitude and self care. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of large group gatherings again, without so much masking up or spreading out! And I’m grateful for the field of neuroscience and what those in that field of study have done to help us understand more about how things work in our minds, bodies, and communities.

This makes me think of the song by the sibling band CAIN: People Need People. It’s true – science even!

How about you? Love a good movie? What’s your favorite movie, or favorite kind of movie? Do you practice gratitude in some way – have you noticed how it affects your ability to engage and connect with others?

5 thoughts on “I love a good movie!

  1. LA

    Love movies, prefer them in the theater!! Rom coms, mysteries, slice of life…really I’ll see almost anything as long as it’s good!! And yes…I practice gratitude every day!


  2. Willow

    I read a book about this a long time ago called Bowling Alone. It was interesting. It’s way dated now, but the premise is the same.

    I, personally can’t stand going to the movies because of the crowds and the noise. Same with concerts. I’ll go to a play though. My hubs is way more introverted than me, and he prefers watching movies at the theater. So there’s that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. David Post author

      Donald Hebb first wrote about social synapse sometime back in the 50s… it’s not a “new” concept, but it’s certainly interesting!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Endless Weekend

      I get what you’re saying about the noise, the crowds, the long lines to the restrooms…

      What do you think of viewing parties? There’s a phone version of it in When Harry Met Sally, when they’re both watch8ng Casablanca (?) and talking through it on the phone. A shared experience at home?

      How about watching a movie with a friend or two… at home? Is that social on a smaller scale?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Willow

        I’ve heard of these, a lot of YouTubers who review stuff will to them with their viewers. They call them screenings. Where they’ll watch the movies live with people. And of course, there are movie nights with friends. I’ve done those in the past. My brother loves to watch bad horror movies with friends.

        Thing is, I’ve stopped watching movies altogether really. Like, a few years back I just, kinda, stopped. Same with TV. It wasn’t a whole thing or anything. I’m not like, making a statement. I just found myself browsing sites like Netflix and Hulu for hours and not finding anything I wanted to watch, so I stopped looking.

        Liked by 3 people

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