Thursday, May 6, 2010

This is Your Brain on Social Media

(image by Emilio Garcia under Creative Commons license.)
I'm pretty convinced that the consistent and pervasive use of social media subtly shifts the mental ground of human consciousness. But as Marshall McLuhan often noted, our present environment is usually invisible. So I devoted most of yesterday's tweets to playing around with the medium through some tongue-in-cheek tweets considering some of the aspects we usually don't attend to. Today's post is based on yesterday's tweets tagged with the #psychsoc hashtag.
This is your brain on social media. There's a lizard and a chimp in your brain who don't really get net-centric social media. They interpret the interactions as if they were the meatspace analogues. So there are all kinds of bio-physical processes that can get activated in the course of your socially networked day that impact your experience of self and the world.

What are you looking for here? No. Try again. What are you REALLY looking for? People are attracted to social networking for many reasons, most of them probably unconscious. Humans are generally blind to the complexity of motivation behind their actions and social networking is no exception.

You like me? You really like me! There is a subtle message of personal acceptance in the choice people make to follow or friend us on a social network. And vise-versa. Although this may be accurate in some cases, for those of us who socially network with strangers, there is a huge divide between perception and reality. The decision to follow or unfollow usually has little to do with the actual being we are.

AntiGestalt: To the social network, you are equal to the sum of your posts. At least for those who only know us through our updates. It's funny, but unless I pay attention, I fall into the assumption that everyone who follows me on a social network has read and absorbed my two years of blog posts, machinima, comics, etc. FAIL.

Ring that RT bell, dog! I'm ready for my positive reinforcement now. I've been noticing that the chime indicating a retweet or @reply has a more impact than the mere audible stimulus would otherwise induce.

We are hunting, gathering and farming here. Each tweet is prey, plant and seed, depending upon one's perspective.  Social media is the latest extension of ingrained behavioral processes that are as old a humankind.

Warning! Do not read the rest of this tweet as it contains a subliminal mental virus. I'm not joking. I mean it. Zap! From a cultural perspective, the content of any social media post doesn't really matter. The medium is the message. And the message is not consciously perceived.

Who are you really tweeting to? Go on. Spill it. You'll feel better. Although posts go out to one's entire list of followers (and potentially anyone on the internet), I suspect that many tweets have a particular person or subgroup as a target.

I'm a hypnotwitst. Look deep into my tweets and count backwards from infinity to zero. Snap. You're awake!


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