Twitter doesn’t make you amoral, just stupid


twitter_small.jpgADOTAS — First Facebook led you to insanity, now Twitter can lead you to an amoral life.

I’m waiting for the report that says Linkedin links you to rage, because sometimes….. Anyway, according to even more research, emotions linked to our moral sense awaken slowly in the mind. Humans can sort information very quickly and can respond in fractions of seconds to signs of physical pain in others. But admiration and compassion, two of the social emotions that define humanity, take much longer.

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, were authors of the study on digital media and social networks.

“Damasio’s study has extraordinary implications for the human perception of events in a digital communication environment,” media scholar Manuel Castells, holder of the Wallis Annenberg Chair of Communication Technology and Society at USC, said in a press release. “Lasting compassion in relationship to psychological suffering requires a level of persistent, emotional attention.”

From 13 volunteers, (wow. A whole 13?), rain imaging showed that the volunteers needed six to eight seconds to fully respond to stories of virtue or social pain. However, once awakened, the responses lasted far longer than the volunteers’ reactions to stories focused on physical pain. The study raises questions about the emotional cost—particularly for the developing brain—of heavy reliance on a rapid stream of news snippets obtained through television, online feeds or social networks such as Twitter.

“If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people’s psychological states and that would have implications for your morality,” Immordino- Yang said.

Immordino-Yang did not blame digital media. “It’s not about what tools you have, it’s about how you use those tools,” she said.

Of course, this doesn’t explain why a man rigged a chair to tweet every time he farted. Yes. High brow indeed.


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