Lights and Their Effect on Mood

There are many different ways that light is produced, and whether that be from a fire, an LED, a luminescent bulb, or an electronic screen, it is still recognized as light. However, I would like to make the claim that different sources of light provide for not only different atmospheres, but different moods… hear me out on this one.

Disclaimer: Before continuing, I would like to make it clear that I am not discussing how much light is being produced and the argument on the dimness of a light and its effect on mood, but only the producer of the light itself. The presence and dimness of lights, I feel, also effects mood, but it is to my knowledge that this is more of a widely accepted belief, making it seem silly to try to affirm along with the different light sources at the same time.

This might sound silly, but it’s true! Depending on where you get your light, your mind will respond differently. If I were to make a claim, I would say that this is due to the fact that you connect memories or stereotypes with these different sources of lights, but I’m not here to explain why different light sources effect mood, but in what ways they do so.

Let’s start with the light source that most of us can immediately connect a feeling to: fire. What’s particularly interesting about the flame as a light source is that it can instill two very stark emotions within us depending on the circumstance. The feeling of security and safety of a fireplace or a campfire has been ingrained in human nature since the primordial era of hunters and gatherers. The fire allowed for defending against dangerous nocturnal predators, not only giving us the vision to see them, but also fearing them with this ominous source of light that they’ve never-before interacted with. It’s interesting that although there is the contrast between the roaring campfire and the tamed fireplace , they both grant this feeling of security, whether that’s outside against nature or inside the comfort of your own home. This can, of course, also be attributed to the warmth of the fires themselves, however I feel that without this, the presence of light coming off of a manmade fire grants a sense of secureness that no other light can. Now that we have discussed the tamed flame, let’s move to the untamed, which instead instills a sense of fear and death within us. Flames have always been the light in Hell, which I feel contributes to this view in a similar way that the primordial use of fire contributed to the tamed flame. The uncontrollable or living flame acts upon its own will, burning building, forests, and whatever it feels like devouring.  Lightning also applies to this living flame concept, with the bursts of light so powerful that it makes the average dog whimper in fear. The light of an uncontrollable flame causing destruction does far from what the domesticated fire did to your emotion, replacing security with fear, safety with panic, and warmth with mourning. The flame protected you when it was small, but has taken control and grown to be bigger than you could have ever imagined, taking what you gave it and using it to cause distress.

This duality of man scenario can also be observed with the sun, with it’s light rising in the morning being able to signify both that you have survived another day, but also that yesterday’s over. This “yesterday’s over” feeling juts out to me very specifically because of the Plain White T’s “Rhythm of Love”, which has the lyric “We may only have tonight |
But till the morning sun you’re mine | all mine “, and I know that there’s another song that I should be remembering with this similar idea, but I just can’t remember it as of now. Regardless of love songs, the sun usually uses its light for happiness, now whether that’s the light, the heat, or the Vitamin D talking is hard to pin down.

Away from flame and natural lights, you know what else causes distress? The light emitted from a fluorescent tube light bulb. Ignoring the low hums and consistent buzzing, the bright, unnatural, and unpredictable light produced by these bulbs fills man with a sense of droning, causing irregularities in productivity. This case can mostly be seen in laboratories, schools, and warehouses, however, the same effect can be observed on the average person when watching the television. Granted, the technologies that are shifting into the hands of the consumer are moving away from fluorescent light in favor of LEDs, but for the greater majority of its history, the television has been lit by the same type of technology that has run the bulbs of warehouses everywhere, causing similar effects to one’s mood and motivations.

Back to the idea of home that fireplaces bring us, it’s hard to mention light without mentioning incandescent bulbs! These are your standard light bulbs, and unless you’ve switched your entire house’s circuitry and relay systems over to adapt for LED bulbs, then your house is currently flooded with these types of bulbs, hence why I feel that the presence of this type of light radiates a feeling of home and domestication. Whether it be the light out on your porch, the light on your desk, or the red light that you’ve been sitting at for what at this point has had to be minutes, incandescent bulbs are an indication of domestication and modernization. This feeling is also shared with halogen bulbs, incandescent’s cousin that has a famous application in street lamps.

Sadly, I feel that it is best for me to end my reflection of light sources here. I would have loved to cover LEDs and their multiple iterations and how they effect people, but I feel that the lack of widespread use of LEDs in traditional lighting applications and the short life that LEDs have experienced up to this point have resulted in a lack of experience and applicable data to this discussion. Regardless of that, I hope that reading this has allowed you to not only see different types of light differently, but feel them differently too.

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2 Responses to Lights and Their Effect on Mood

  1. iagostinelli says:

    Wow Colin you just blew my mind.

  2. Kayla Myles says:

    This made me think about different forms of light in a completely different way. Originally I thought of light as light. It’s opposite of dark and allows me to see. But when comparing home lights, to the sun, to fires, you realize they give off drastically different feelings. In fact, if you put these sources directly next to each other or imagine them next to each other in your head, they really stand out from one another and give off different emotions. It’s interesting because I could feel fear in the presence of an untamed fire, but it would be ridiculous to be afraid of a lightbulb. Yet, the two sources share a similar act of shining light. This was a cool and interesting way to think about light!

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