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But we can also get that release through Twitter or any social media, really.”Zak recounts a test he ran with the journalist Adam Penenberg, asking him to engage his Twitter followers for 10 minutes.Penenberg used the time to respond to a few strangers’ tweets and to make a 122-character joke about the way his GPS pronounces words.What Clayton did not touch on is the possibility that the safety and convenience of mediated relationships could overshadow face-to-face relationships.Japan is the most Twitter-using country in the world on a per capita basis.
Apparently, he had found a channel that was showing reruns of Baudrillard paused, then replied: “What I am, I don’t know.Zak tested Penenberg’s blood both before and after the exercise, and found that in just those 10 minutes, Penenberg’s oxytocin levels rose by 13.2 percent and his stress hormones decreased by about 13 percent.Zak told me that the oxytocin boost Penenberg got from this mediated social interaction was similar to what a groom experiences before his wedding.In the most extreme such test, Zak recorded a 150 percent increase in oxytocin in a South Korean man who spent the allotted 10 minutes posting to his girlfriend’s Facebook page.“It was just off the charts.” Zak said, “Most people have an increase of 15 to 20 percent. But all people—100 percent—we have tested all had an increase in oxytocin from using all kinds of social media.”People with more friends tend to get sick less often and even tend to live longer than people with smaller social circles.And the conclusion Zak has come to is that social networking can not only reduce many of the health risks associated with loneliness—notably, heart attack and stroke—but that the brain interprets using Twitter or Facebook in a nearly identical way to speaking to someone face-to-face.About one in three Japanese people who have an Internet connection use the service.Japanese is the most tweeted language after English and the top five most active accounts on Twitter are all based in Japan.In fact, one in three Japanese people under 30 reports never having dated at all.Maybe Twitter provides an alternate source of oxytocin for some of these single people.Can we still call love “love” if it’s passing through a screen? Zak, a professor of neuro-economics at the Claremont Graduate University who sometimes goes by “Dr.Love,” has been conducting studies on how relationships maintained over social media differ from relationships in real life.