According to a recent article in the Washington Post, Twitter can make you stupid, irritable, and tired.
For some years now, there's been a new understanding of the brain as in one important sense like a muscle. Constant use in processing information or making tough decisions depletes its energy and degrades the quality of its function. Because of this, you shouldn't appear in front of a judge right before lunch, or at the very end of the day, if you can avoid it. I'd avoid it altogether, but still, judges tend to be more reasonable and lenient first thing in the morning, or just after a good meal, which replenishes the depleted glucose stores in their brains that are then once again available for peak neural function, as well as fairness, justice, and kindness.
Ok, so back to Twitter. The Post article reported that, on average, we're exposed to and process five times more information every day than people did just twenty years ago. Add to that an ongoing stream of social media and you get a serious overload, even independent of what you're reading on Twitter or deciding to say there. It's not just the endless stream of Kardashian tweets. It's simply the constant exposure that can wear you out, even in short bursts, or in sessions lasting less than the common length of "Always On." The scientific claim is that people who check their phones incessantly for texts, emails, and their Twitter stream become mentally compromised, although I'm sure other experts would flip that claim around. If you're smart enough, wouldn't you avoid that in the first place? Maybe not.
Here's the problem: The more unimportant stuff that we think about and decide about, the less well prepared we are for handling the crucial stuff. No wonder meaning of life issues get neglected when there's always a new tweet on how you can lose weight/market yourself better/improve your public speaking/get a raise/get a deal/ or get more Twitter followers if you'll just click on this link, and give us your email address for THIS FREE DOWNLOAD THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
The cognitive psychologists interviewed for the Post piece are just coming up with one more reason why we should follow the advice of my friend Bill Powers in his book Hamlet's Blackberry, and wisely moderate how we use our communication devices, giving ourselves the breaks that we so richly deserve. To be or not to be, out of the stream - that is the question.
So: Give yourself a break now and then. Jump out of the stream and dry off. Bask a bit in the warm sun of peaceful calm. Avoid the new stupid.
That's real Twisdom.