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This is Your Brain on Twitter

By: Bruce Layman
By: Bruce Layman

A new study poses some interesting research on how "tweeting" may be messing with our heads. But that's only inspired me to double my efforts to become a bona fide Tweeter!

Several of us in the WTAP newsroom have been "experimenting" with Twitter.  Better late than never, right?  While some of the "younger, hipper" folks already use Twitter on a purely social basis, we laggards are trying to figure out its practical uses to make our jobs easier - such as updating breaking news on our web channel via Twitter.  

As I continue to explore and experiment with "tweets," I ran across on Yahoo! a link to an article this past week on what may be the first evidence that Twittering (or Tweeting?) may be bad for one's health.  Great!  Another thing to worry about!  

The article highlights research from Antonio Damasio, director of the University of Southern California's Brain and Creativity Institute.  Damasio's research suggests - at least this is my take on it - that rapid-fire exchanges of Tweets and other forms of texting are not processed by the brain in the same way good ol' face-to-face conversation is processed.

Specifically, Damasio and his group of fellow researchers found that emotions such as "admiration" and "compassion" - emotions unique to humans except for News Directors - are extremely hard, if not impossible, for the brain to process during lighting-fast blasts of 140-character information.  It sounds like this potential problem may pertain mostly to developing young brains (i.e. the future leaders of our country). 

Near the same link on Yahoo!'s home page was the "top story" of the day - that actor Ashton Kutcher won a Twitter contest by reaching a magical one-million "followers" of his Tweets.  Heck, I signed up to receive Tweets from David Bowie two months ago and haven't received one louzy message from him yet!

Aside from important Tweets like "avoid Grand Central Avenue - traffic is slow" and "buy bread at the store," I'm still trying to figure out what possible things Ashton Kutcher - or any other "successful" Tweeter for that matter - are Tweeting that really would or should make a whole lot of difference to an average person.  Do people really feel closer when they receive regular stream of consciousness drivel from others?

Perhaps I'm just jealous.  I've amassed only one follower (thanks, Phillip!) so far in my Twitter testing.  I am setting a goal to get TEN FOLLOWERS by the end of April! 

Potential followers of Blayman1 will be assured of days of absolutely no Tweets from me, punctuated by a flurry of important information such as how many espressos I drink in a single morning, weird things I dreamt the previous night, and perhaps even requests for important info, like the names of songs I 'm not familiar with so I don't have to embarrass myself singing the lyrics to a laughing Abby Kidder.

= Bruce

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