Over-sharing on social media is just like sex, experts say

over sharing on social media is just like sex experts say brainscanIt turns out, there’s a reason why people love to talk about themselves so much on Twitter, Facebook and other social media – And, no, cynics, it’s not just because that’s what everyone thinks those services are there for. A new study from the Harvard Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab has discovered that it feels really good when we share information about ourselves, in the same way that it feels really good when we have sex. Suddenly, that Pinterest site you were thinking about setting up about yourself feels a little creepy, doesn’t it…?

Studies have shown that 80 percent of the average user’s social media posts – and 30-40 percent of the average person’s speech output each day, for that matter – consist of self-disclosure, leading scientists to consider just why we’re all so convinced with talking about ourselves. Harvard SCAN Lab‘s Diana Tamir and co-author Jason Mitchell took on the question, hooking subjects up to an MRI machine to monitor brain activity as they answered questions about their own and others’ attitudes on various subjects (including, amusingly, Barack Obama’s enjoyment of winter sports such as skiing) in case there was a discernible difference. The result [pdf] was the discovery that talking about yourself engages two areas of the brain associated with reward – the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA) – in ways that talking about other subjects just… doesn’t.

For those unfamiliar with brain regions, the nucleus accumbens is part of the brain most commonly linked to concepts of reward, pleasure and addiction, considered important in the processing of such pleasurable activities as sex or good food. The ventral tegmental, meanwhile, is similarly linked to reward processing, as well as pleasurable feelings we get from being in love. So, basically, talking about yourself is just like having sex while eating chocolate. Or something.

Tamir and Mitchell also considered whether or not having an audience was responsible for the reward felt when sharing information about yourself, with Tamir telling the LA Times that “We didn’t know if self-disclosure was rewarding because you get to think about yourself and thinking about yourself is rewarding, or if it is important to have an audience.” The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that mental reward activity comes with the knowledge that someone they know is receiving the information being given, compared with sending information out into a void. Tamir believes that this explains the success of social media: “I think it helps explain why Twitter exists and why Facebook is so popular, because people enjoy sharing information about each other.”

All that remains now is for someone to monitor the brain activity of someone live-tweeting themselves eating chocolate during sex… but I’m sure that’ll happen before too long.

Social Media

Facebook will pay to spy on you, but you can make more money elsewhere

Facebook's new Study app will track how you use your phone and provide that data to the social media giant. The company will even pay you for it — but likely not very much, especially compared to the market rate for your personal…
Social Media

Here's how to link your Instagram, Facebook accounts for social syncing

Instagram and Facebook go hand in hand. Here's how you can make the most of the superior integration offered by the two social media behemoths, which should help your pics gain more exposure in the long run.
Social Media

These are the best ways to make your own animated GIF to share

Love sharing GIFs with your friends and peers, but wish you could make your own? Here's how to do so in Photoshop, or using a few other methods that don't require you to shell out a premium fee with each calendar year.
Social Media

Zuckerberg may have known more about Facebook’s privacy scandal than we thought

In the midst of an ongoing investigation into Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, a new report suggests that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have known about the company's much-criticized approach to privacy.

Bored with your Snapchat username? Here's how to change it

We've all been there. You're setting up a new account and just type in whatever pops into your head as a username. Then, later on, you realize that was a mistake. Here's how to change your Snapchat username.

Get together with your buddies, talk, and play games with Snapchat's group chat

You can get your friends together for a good time, even if they are hundreds of miles away, by starting up a group chat on Snapchat. Here's how to make a group chat on Snapchat and get the party started.

Tesla screens may support YouTube with next software update

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced today at E3 that the infotainment screens will support YouTube video streaming very soon. This most likely lines up with the latest software update that is expected later this year.
Social Media

Instagram is back up after being offline. Here’s the latest on the outage

Instagram finally came back online Thursday afternoon after an outage that lasted just over an hour. The Instagram outage was one of several that hit at the same time, including a several-hour failure at the PlayStation Network.
Social Media

Facebook’s comment-ranking system aimed at taming the dumpster fire

Even by the standards of the internet, Facebook comments are famously awful. Now Facebook is introducing a new comment ranking system to attempt to tackle this problem by promoting quality comments and hiding low quality ones.

Adobe concocts an A.I. that can detect — and reverse — manipulated photos

The company behind the software that's often used to manipulate photographs may help make it easy to spot a fake photo. Researchers at Adobe recently created an artificially intelligent program that can recognize fake photos of faces.
Social Media

Kim Kardashian can get a deepfake taken off YouTube. It’s much harder for you

YouTube took down an incredibly realistic — and fake — video purporting to show Kim Kardashian West discussing a shadowy organization called “Spectre” and mocking her fans for violating copyright.
Social Media

Maybe you missed something, so here's how to take another look at that Snap

The people you follow on Snapchat are important to you. If you get frustrated when you're trying to look at a friend's Snap or Story and it disappears, here's how to replay a Snapchat message or post.

You can delete Snapchat messages in a snap with these simple tips

If you've ever sent a message to someone and wish you could delete it, Snapchat has a feature you'll like. Yes, it lets you delete messages you've already sent. There are some limitations, though. Here's how to delete Snapchat messages.

Brush up on your makeup skills with YouTube’s new augmented reality feature

YouTube will soon let users try on makeup while watching popular makeup tutorials through augmented reality. Viewers will be able to actually try on the makeup products the online tutorials are showcasing and promoting.