Twitterers are Heathens!

By  |  Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 1:02 pm

In yet another installment from the crazy study department, research conducted by the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California seems to suggest that twittering may lead to immorality. Remember that the next time you are trying to describe your feelings in 140 characters or less.

Before you say, “what the …”, let me explain their premise. Institute Director Antonio Damasio along with his research group argue that moral decision-making requires more time to ponder ones options. In this status-update driven world, that apparently doesn’t happen.

They set to prove their point by sharing stories that would invoke certain emotions with study participants. Brain scans indicated it was taking 6-8 seconds for those emotions to register.

From this I’m guessing Damasio and Co. inferred that the high speed inflow of information that status driven websites like Twitter just doesn’t give us enough time to properly feel an emotion about what we’re taking in.

USC media scholar Manuel Castells chimed in on PhysOrg, where the study originally appeared. “Lasting compassion in relationship to psychological suffering requires a level of persistent, emotional attention,” he reasons.

This has to be the oddest study I’ve seen in a long time. Whereas the Facebook study just seemed to state the obvious, this just seems to create unnecessary concern over the path society is taking.

Twitter was never meant to invoke emotion. It’s premise was to let people know what you are doing, or what is happening. Take natural disasters. When the tweets start rolling in, are these people suggesting there is no reaction at all to learning people have perished, or are in trouble?

Sorry, but this takes a huge leap of faith to believe we’ve become that callous.

One last point, I was discussing this with a friend, and he said “wow its kind of funny you’d take on neuroscientists.” Yes, these folks are smart. But I think the big issue here is that some type of problem with social media was inferred.

I know when I infer something that could be interpreted a multitude of ways, I am usually criticized by readers. How is this different?



2 Comments For This Post

  1. DTNick Says:

    I think this would be a problem if all communication took the form of 140-character text blurbs, but in the real world, not so much.

  2. Pseudonymous Coward Says:

    Never mind whether you’ve taken on neuroscientists or not. Your mere appearance of bravery has no bearing on the truth. While your skepticism is appreciated, your journalism appears quite shoddy: PhysOrg is not where the study originally “appeared”; it is slated to do so in the PNAS next week. Get your facts straight before you shoot from your hip: maybe that is part of the message of the study.

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