Tuesday, 01 Oct, 2013 Technology

How the Internet Affects You


Without doubt Internet is one of the greatest inventions of human kind, giving us w myriad of wonderful things, among which email, social networks and cute cats.

But the coin has two sides, which means that the benefits of Internet come at a cost and the price we pay for it is mind destruction, sanity, and social lifestyle.

All in all, the Internet helps us a lot but at the same time it makes people feel miserable, angry and can even kill you.

Email Can Be As Addictive As Gambling

It is probably one of the most often used instruments of the Internet. Besides the fact that electronic mail saves a lot of trees, it makes considerably improves the effectiveness of businesses. It is also a great tool of mass communication, which turns people into addicts.

We might think that everything is under our control, but we do not realize that we check our email much more often than we think. At the same time the interruptions are very detrimental that previously thought. This issue is linked to "variable interval reinforcement schedule" - a similar process that leads to gambling addiction.

Just like putting a coin in the machine, you check your email in hope of a "reward" - n interesting response to your mail. However the reward does not always come predictable, which leads the user to performing the first action again and again. Currently it represents one of the most powerful habit-training methods known so far. Almost every person that owns a computer has been suffering from this addiction for years.

Facebook Makes You Feel Miserable

It is extremely difficult to quit social networks that we're used to and that directly refers to Facebook that has already become the ever growing craze. Researchers discovered that social networks, and namely Facebook, make people miserable.

Is a study carried out by a team of American Belgian researchers, participants were asked to use Facebook for two weeks. At the same time researchers have been examining their mood.

It has been discovered that those who frequently used the social network had lower life-satisfaction both at the end of the experiment and after every single visits to the website. Generally speaking, just one visit to Facebook can be a rough equivalent of watching a cute puppy get punched for hours.

There's more to it. In another study, carried out in Germany, it was discovered that main emotion shown by young people who often visited Facebook was envy. The exmplanation for this is simple - a lot of people inflate their achievements and level of happiness on their profiles, while not thinking about the fact that everyone else can be doing well too.

Twitter Anger

If you're an active Twitter user then think back of when was the last time that a Tweet really triggered a reaction in you. There are high chances that that reaction was anger and the explanation for that is also quite simple - social media today is mainly powered by anger.

According to a team of Chinese researchers, who analyzed 70 million posts on the Chinese version of Twitter, called Sina Weibo, with the goal of discovering the emotions that dominate the network, anger is clearly the main emotion. Rage outruns every other emotion by far, being followed by little joy, disgust, and sadness.

Internet Can Make You Dumber

Researchers have studied the influences of social media on our cognitive abilities, and the results of several studies were published in the journal Science.

They managed to discover that although the Internet can help increase your level of visual literacy, this increase comes at a cost, and that is the decrease in critical thinking, the ability to inductively solve problems, imagination, and others.

To conclude: the Internet can help us become smarter in some areas, while making us dumber in other, with the latter being more important, due to the fact that critical thinking and imagination represent very important human traits.

The Internet Rewires Our Brains

According to a study carried out in 2011 the Internet can rewire users' brains. After scanning the brains of 125 students from UK, a team of researchers found a direct connection between the number of friends that students had on the social networking site Facebook and the amount of grey matter the participants had in specific areas of the brain.

Because there areas are thought to have an influence on memory, social interaction, and possibly even autism, this thing seems rather important. So far the research is unable to say with certainty whether social media really does rewire our brain or whether users with such different brain structures are just more likely to gather on Facebook. However, there's a lot of evidence that the Internet is influencing the way people behave.

Internet Helps Companies Influence People

There's a term called "Astroturfing". It describes the process in which companies create lost and lots of fake personalities in order to flood message boards with a specific opinion. Thus, when you look at a myriad of comments arguing that one product or another is the best there is you might as be influenced that those opinions.

Such tactics are used nearly everywhere, starting with tobacco companies and finishing with the US Air Force. But most importantly - it really works.

A research carried out among 278 students in Canada asked participants to answer a questionnaire regarding climate change and what they think about it.

Afterwards students were randomly assigned to study either a real climate science page, or an "Astroturf" page created with the goal of discrediting the idea of climate change.

Researchers discovered that students who looked through fake pages and read fake comments were more likely to believe that climate change is really something to worry about, even though they had doubt in credibility of the sources they surfed through.

Internet Addiction Is Stronger than the Heroin One

Although the so-called Internet Use Disorder (IUD) is currently not an official mental health disorder, a lot of studies have been made to prove that the problem persists and it is important to tackle it.

Those who suffer from Internet addiction have symptoms of withdrawal when they cannot get online. In addition, studies found that the brain of some Internet users shows the activity that is almost the same as the activity in the brains of cocaine and heroin addicts.

Social Media Makes You Less Empathetic

According to a number of researches, today's youth is less empathetic than it used to be several decades ago, and namely 40 percent less. So far no one knows why this happened but it could be social problem, with some considering that the social media is to blame.

If you think about it then it might have sense: everybody watches videos that include scenes of aggressive behavior and humiliation. Then they tweet these videos to other users.

Scientists consider that social media slows our compassion responses. Although the research is far from conclusive, it still makes you think about the issue.

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