A new study suggests that social networks like Twitter are closely linked to how our brain operates. When we tweet about our super-delicious lunch, our newest tech gadget purchase or how we’re so sick of having to wait in this link, our brains feel a rush of pleasure, much like when we get money or eat food.
We love to talk about ourselves. Some of us might even be a bit narcissistic. This is something you probably realized well before signing up for Twitter, but there’s something special about the microblogging service and its older brother Facebook that lets us exercise this narcissistic self-love to the extreme.
And now we know why we get such a rush when we broadcast our day to our thousands of friends and followers.
Researchers at Harvard conducted a study examining our brains on a cell and synapse level to figure out why 40 percent of our daily speech is centered around telling others what we think and feel. And the reason? It feels so good.
The researchers visualized dozens of volunteers’ brain activity using MRI machines, to see what parts were activated when they talked about themselves.
In one experiment, researchers asked the volunteers questions about themselves and about others. They offered money if the volunteers answered questions about others – but between 17 and 25 percent of the time, they chose to give up the money and answer questions about themselves instead.
Combined with four other, related experiments, the study resulted in an explanation of why we tweet and update about ourselves so often: it makes our brains feel good. Specifically, when we engage in self-disclosure, the meso-limbic dopamine system of our brain is activated, which is associated with that same feel-good feeling as getting money or sex.
So next time you get flack about tweeting about yourself so much, you have an excuse: we’re just wired that way!
(Neural system image via Shutterstock)