Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Study: Your Brain Isn’t Built for Twitter


Ever worry that the ever-increasing barrage of status updates from Facebook, Twitter and every other real-time, hey-look-what-I’m-doing and look-what-happened-just-this-very-second service may be outstripping your brain’s capacity to process them?

You’re probably right, says a new study from a University of Southern California neuroscience group.

“‘For some kinds of thought, especially moral decision-making about other people’s social and psychological situations, we need to allow for adequate time and reflection,’ said first author Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.

‘Humans can sort information very quickly and can respond in fractions of seconds to signs of physical pain in others.

Admiration and compassion–two of the social emotions that define humanity–take much longer….'”

Too many words? Want to cut to the chase? OK:

“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.”

Blah blah blah. I’d write more, but I just caught wind (heh) of this story about a chair that Tweets its user’s flatulence. Gotta go!

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik