Is Twitter and Tweeting bad for the brain?
Tweeting serves three purposes:
- A personal announcement
- A business/product promotion
- An opinion
Tweeting gives some people a sense of significance by feeling they have a voice and can be heard. When we believe that people actually care about our opinions and thoughts, we raise our self-esteem, confidence and self-image; we feel more significant.
Neurological research from UCSF (University California San Francisco) reveals that excessive tweeting and checking other’s tweets leads to constant distractions and frequent multitasking which ironically makes you worse at multitasking and can hinder ling-term memory and mental performance by losing the ability to successfully filter out irrelevant data and focus on one piece of information at a time. Simply put: the more we teach our brain to constantly jump around, the less it can sit still – it wants to keep jumping around.
Emotionally, tweeting can make us more impatient, impulsive, forgetful and of course, narcissistic – falsely thinking that everyone’s happiness and meaning in life is dependent on knowing where we are and exactly what we are doing, thus creating an extraordinarily inflated sense of self and ego.
By constantly focusing on communicating in 140 characters, we train our brain to think in overly-simplified ways and we lose our ability to create and process complex thoughts. And that is what John Mayer was referring to when he said he awoke to realize the damage that Twitter had done to him: “I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore…I was a tweetaholic.”
Finally, researchers at UCSF are finding that increased distractions are in essence aging our brain – and like old people who find it hard to multitask and recall short term events, young people are creating the same with increased distractions and interruptions.*
Patrick Wanis PhD
Behavior Expert and Celebrity Life Coach www.patrickwanis.com
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have pinpointed a reason older adults have a harder time multitasking than younger adults: they have more difficulty switching between tasks at the level of brain networks. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110411152522.htm
* “The impact of distractions and interruptions reveals the fragility of working memory,” said Adam Gazzaley, who also is a member of the W. M. Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at UCSF. “This is an important fact to consider, given that we increasingly live in a more demanding, high-interference environment, with a dramatic increase in the accessibility and variety of electronic media and the devices that deliver them, many of which are portable.”