by: Samantha L. Colinco
EMOTIONS, PUMPED UP by social media, triggered crucial events such as the Arab Spring, the London riot and the Occupy Wall Street movement, said journalist Maria Ressa in a lecture last Nov. 16.
“Every single dot on a [digital] map like this is a person. And every single person can spread an emotion through three degrees. If you keep that in mind, then you can understand how real world events like these can come out of social media,” said Ressa, CEO and executive editor of the online social news network, Rappler.
Ressa added that although many ideas spread in social media, emotions are far more. She cited the book Connected by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, which says emotions and all behavior spread on social network through three degrees.
“If I’m feeling lonely, my friend has a 51% chance of feeling lonely because I do. And my friend’s friend has a 25% chance of feeling lonely because I do. And my friend’s friend’s friend, my third degree friend, has a 15% chance of feeling lonely because I do. That is how things spread,” said former chief of the CNN Southeast Asia bureau and the ABS-CBN News Department.
In her lecture entitled “Social Media for Social Change,” Ressa said that those uprisings in 2011 were spurred by social media, which hit a tipping point in 2009.
In the same year, social media overtook pornography as the number one activity on the Web. She said this is because social media doubles the amount of pleasure-causing chemicals in the brain compared to porn.
“A study done at Stanford University took brain scans of students while they were on Facebook and Twitter. They found out two things: one, being on Facebook literally played with your emotions and two, it was rewiring your brain,” Ressa told approximately 300 students and teachers at the Silliman University Hall.
Ressa added that the pleasure comes from the body’s secretion of dopamine, a chemical that causes mild addiction.
“When you talk about yourself, you get a dose of dopamine. When your friend responds and they ‘like’ you and they comment, they retweet, they ‘favorite,’ they reblog what they’ve read, you get another dose of dopamine,” she said.
Ressa also added that another hormone that increases when a person is on social media is called oxytocin or “the love hormone.”
“If you hug someone for longer than six seconds, you will start to feel better because oxytocin will increase. . . So tweeting is like hugging,” she said.
“We can do this together if we decide to do this. We combine our surplus free time and we can only do that when we’re given the right opportunity. That’s how Rappler came to be,” Ressa said.
Other speakers of the Rappler Move.PH Chat Series, Dumaguete leg were SU President Ben S. Malayang III and Rappler staff Chay Hofileña, Natashya Gutierrez, Michael Josh Villanueva and Patricia Evangelista.