Narcissists, take note: Texting too much and obsessively checking social media doesn’t just make you look like a jerk, research suggests it makes you act like one too.
A new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggests that habitually trolling social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, causes people to be “more shallow and less moral.” Hmm. Hunch confirmed. Well, sort of, if you consider a lightweight sampling of 100 students enough to draw conclusions from.
The goal of the research, recently conducted at Canada’s University of Windsor, was to test the “shallowing hypothesis,” a theory that acclaimed tech and culture critic Nicholas Carr put forth in his 2011 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Essentially, Carr posits that regularly engaging in quick bursts of texting and tweeting trains our brains to make snap judgments, and, worse, it generally renders us cognitively and morally shallow. (Not that knowing that ugly truth would stop us from trolling Facebook every six or so minutes.)
In this case, the researchers asked the students to classify dozens of life goals and core values by importance. They found that participants who frequently texted or incessantly checked their social-media accounts were more concerned about superficial stuff, such as their looks and having fun, than more meaningful things, such as living honestly and being a good person who helps others.
“I don’t find (social media) inherently evil or dangerous or problematic, but I argue that it’s not the best use of our time,” the study’s lead author, Logan Annisette, said. “Whether it becomes an issue that needs to be dealt with or not is a matter of debate. But it’s an issue that demands our concern and poses a need for additional research.”
This is far from the first time a link has been made between heavy texting and social media gluttony and shallowness. Many studies have picked apart the topic, including a similar one conducted at the University of Winnipeg in 2013. It too revealed what we already suspected but were too busy tweeting to deeply ponder: going gaga on texting and social media makes Jack a self-centered boy.