CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Twitter and source amnesia

Twitter is *a* source of information, not *the* source.

Your brain lies to you, says the NY Times in an Op-ed piece about the upcoming elections. For me, the article illuminates some of the implications of the social-media world where information flies at you from every direction. You don't know what's true or false and odds are you can't handle the volume of information in a manner that lets you process it effectively.

Basically you hear or learn something, the brain processes it multiple times and by the time its fully part of your brain you've forgotten where it came from.

This phenomenon, known as source amnesia, can also lead people to forget whether a statement is true. Even when a lie is presented with a disclaimer, people often later remember it as true.

With time, this misremembering only gets worse. A false statement from a noncredible source that is at first not believed can gain credibility during the months it takes to reprocess memories from short-term hippocampal storage to longer-term cortical storage. As the source is forgotten, the message and its implications gain strength.

I find myself following my Twitter list and posting my own inanities having little to no idea if there are implications or if what anyone posts is actually true. This requires a level of diligence that the brain isn't necessarily prepared to deal with as well as a level of attention that goes beyond being a communications utility and into a part-time job.

Personally, this Twitter thing was fun for a while but it has become a burden.