Constant and consistent use of social media such as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been found to cause “cognitive and moral shallowness” according to research. The research shows that texting and using social media are the main parts to blame.
People who frequently text or use social media are less likely to engage in “reflective thought” and “placed less importance on moral life goals”. If this study is true then our generation is doomed, because our lives hinge on our use of social media.
Nicholas G Carr, a tech writer, whose book has been nominated for the Pulitzer price, said that the internet had been changing the way we think, read and remember. According to him, the Internet was causing a decline in reflective thought. The fast paced nature of the internet and communication nowadays, which usually involves short texts, tweets, comments and messages that do not take long to process, was the cause.
His idea is that, due to more and more usage of short and fast communication, we are also getting our brains used to shallow, short and faster thinking. This then causes a decrease in reflective thought which usually needs a long time and concentration, and thus a decline in the importance placed on morality and increase in importance which will be placed on factors like hedonism and image. The “shallowness” hypothesis” says that “always connected internet access, always-on portable entertainment media, always in touch electronic social media have led to the dramatic decline in ordinary daily reflective thought.”
A study conducted in 2013 also showed that of 2,314 people tested, the more frequent texters were the ones with “traits, goals and attitudes that were characteristic of individuals with low interest and engagement in reflective thought.” These frequent texters were less likely to respond positively to “I want to live an ethical, principled life” and “I want to live my life with genuine integrity”.
A recent study also sought to find the correlation between social media and moral and cognitive decline. This study assessed participant’s texting and social media habits and measured how reflective they were and analysing attitudes towards moral and hedonistic life goals. The study revealed that “texting frequency was negatively associated with life goals in the morality domain” and more related to “image and hedonism goal domains”.
The study also found that people who used more social media were less likely to be reflective than people who used it less. This just goes to show the impact social media and texting have had in our lives. The more the technology change, the more our thinking ability changes. So cognitive thinking and morals are also more likely to change.