Too Much Time Bent Over a Digital Screen Makes Us Lose Our Capacity for Humanity


Tue, Mar 26th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Barbara L. Fredrickson, of The New York Times, notes that while instant electronic access is convenient, being "bent over a digital screen, thumbing a connection to somewhere else" rather than having face-to-face positive social contact "diminishes people." In other words, "If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so."

Work in social genomics reveals that our personal histories of social connection or loneliness, for instance, alter how our genes are expressed within the cells of our immune system. New parents may need to worry less about genetic testing and more about how their own actions — like texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child — leave life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.

When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health.

If you don’t regularly exercise this capacity, it withers. Lucky for us, connecting with others does good and feels good, and opportunities to do so abound.



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