Most interesting is how the Twitter system acts to fill a deep psychological need in our society. The unfortunate reality is that we are a culture starved for real community. For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings have resided in tribes of about 30-70 people. Our brains are wired to operate within the social context of community – programming both crucial and ancient for human survival.

However, the tribal context of life was subverted during the Industrial Revolution, when the extended family was torn apart in order to move laborers into the cities. But a deep evolutionary need for community continues to express itself, through feelings of community generated by your workplace, your church, your sports team, and now… the twitterverse. This is why people feel so compelled to tweet, to facebook or even to check their email incessantly. We crave connection.

This article makes some interesting points, but it is also a little longish, so I just saved you time by excerpting the most important point. If you’re into a lot of psychology and philosophy though, by all means click through and read the whole thing.

Here are a few more nuggets:

* “…all the more addictive because Twitter’s software designers were clever enough to program in tenacious intermittent reward systems…”. – This is very true, the immediacy of the feedback of seeing your tweet posted, knowing that it just went out to dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people, is rewarding in itself, and the feedback loops only get heightened if there are near immediate replies.

Incidentally, Twitter’s “Favorite” function is missing these aspects, which is why I have previously argued that it’s failed to catch on, and has been replaced by a spontaneous emergence of the Retweet (RT) convention that Twitter doesn’t even support natively!

* “We are the most narcissistic age ever… Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognize you, you cease to exist…” – I’d say rather than an issue with narcissism, it is a fact that in an attention economy, unless you have somebody’s attention, you in a sense really don’t exist. This goes for a business context first, but for a personal context to some extent as well.

* Also loved this quote: “It’s an old joke [… :] Second Life, heck! I can’t even keep up with my first one!”

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