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Twitter Morals

If you Twitter, you should realize that rapid-fire media of this type may confuse your moral compass and you may end up sending messages that are harsher than a live conversation (or written letter) would be. Why does email sometimes cause us to act this way?

This happens because the emotions linked to our moral sense awaken slowly in the mind?much more slowly than our fingers can type on the computer. Admiration and compassion--two of the social emotions that define humanity--take longer for the brain to process, and by then it may be too late: you may have already pressed the "send" button.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio says, "For some kinds of thought, especially moral decision-making about other people?s social and psychological situations, we need to allow for adequate time and reflection."

Neuroscientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang agrees and says, "If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality."

Humans can sort information very quickly and can respond in fractions of seconds to signs of physical pain in others. Damasio says, "The brain is honoring a distinction between things that have to do with physicality and things that have to do with the mind."

Maybe we should pause for a moment before we hit "send."

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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