The Twitter Syndrome

Is Social Media Eroding Our Intelligence?

Well here we go again, another study that proves what logic could have already told us. But still, this one is worth looking at since it could explain the behavior of the leader of the “Free World.” Social Media, and in particular Twitter, is eroding users’ intelligence, so says new evidence from a recent study.

Now, common sense would tell you that Twitter is nothing more than an online bulletin board for hate speech and cyber-bullying. What’s more, it is a favorite tool of nefarious countries like Russia to influence unwitting social media users into believing false stories and narratives in order to damage democratic governments. “Who needs WMD’s when you have Twitter,” could be their new tagline.

Anyway, back to this new information. A team of Italian researchers has found that “Twitter not only fails to enhance intellectual attainment but substantially undermines it.” The team leader, Gian Paolo Barbetta, a professor of economic policy, told the Washington Post, “I can’t say whether something is changing in the mind, but I can say that something is definitely changing in the behavior and the performance.”

The investigation took two groups of high school students and had them both analyze The Late Mattia Pascal, the 1904 novel by Italian Nobel Laureate Luigi Pirandello. One group used Twitter to communicate and analyze the book within their group, including teachers that weighed in on the conversations, while the other group used traditional teaching methods for their analysis.

Next, the two groups were given the same test to assess their understanding, comprehension, and memorization of the book. In a not-so-shocking outcome, the Twitter group’s performance on the test was between 25% and 40% lower than the standard deviation of the average result for the traditional teaching method group.

The study went further, identifying that higher-achieving students placed in the Twitter group experienced the sharpest declines, demonstrating that use of social networking sites not only fails to increase learning but actively impairs performance as well. Communication and journalism professors including Karen North at USC said she was not surprised by the results. In related news, a spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment or Tweet about the matter.

This brings us to the leader of the free world, President Trump, the so-called “master” of Twitter. What are all his Tweet storms doing to his intellect? What will his brain scans look like after the remainder of his current term in office, Tweeting his day away, or what if, God forbid, he is re-elected? The damage could be incalculable. I know what you are thinking, am I talking about damage to his intellect or the country, or both?

In all seriousness, this is more than just about a petulant president firing off Tweets in the middle of the night. In the final analysis, no one should find it surprising that a piece of technology that dumbs down and distorts communication will make us #lesssmart, and that is deeply #disturbing.

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