Just when you thought you’ve heard all the most ridiculous claims possible, along comes one so scary you won’t know what to do. Twitter gives you cancer? Mac users beware. Tweetie and Twitterific may be harmful to your health. Actually, it’s not so much Twitter as it is social networking, including Facebook, MySpace, and maybe even PixoBebo. Actually, it’s not so much social networking as it is human behavior.
Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics
Why haven’t you heard this before? From The Guardian in the UK comes news of a research paper which puts two and two together and comes up with a quantum jump conclusion (the worst kind).
Aric Sigman is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. His article, Well connected? The biology of social networking pulls statistics together in such a way as to make George W. Bush appear articulate.
Sigman’s thrust is that “Couples now spend less time in one another’s company and more time at work, commuting, or in the same house but in separate rooms using different electronic devices.”
You can see where this is going, right?
Based on the premise that human physical contact is good for you and improves your health, and upon the premise that less contact is bad for you (the cancer connection), and that Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, et al, reduce human contact, therefore, they give you cancer.
Is it any wonder that Mac users are healthier than Windows PC users? Less stress. Camaraderie.
Sigman points to a 1998 study that suggested that greater use of the internet “was associated with declines in communication between family members in the house, declines in the size of their social circle, and increases in their levels of depression and loneliness.”
Uh oh. That flash in the back of your head didn’t come from Adobe or Safari. It was a quantum leap.
Since Sigman doesn’t actually say anything at all about Twitter, what are to conclude?
Sigman doesn’t really have anything to say about social networking systems such as Facebook and Twitter. His article ends with “presiding over a growing body of evidence, we should now explain the true meaning of the term ‘social networking’. At a time of economic recession our social capital may ultimately prove to be our most valuable asset.”
See? Social networking is bad for society so it’s bad for your health.
The Lost Room
Somehow or another we’re using social networking to isolate ourselves from one another. I go into my room to Twitter or IM Wil instead of going to visit him in person.
All those degrees of separation, when you trace the steps far enough, lead to the inevitable conclusion that a Mac user’s health is imperiled by social networking applications such as Twitter.
What’s needed now is some real research into what happens when you’re using online social networks, and to what extent they can supplant face-to-face interaction.
So, in the end, we can be saved from terra firma extinction by some sort of communication methodology that brings us together, face to face to face.