Category: Social Commentary

Dear Facebook Friends, We Have to Stop Seeing Each Other Like This

Insula and Somatosensory Cortex

Look, we all love facebook, but it’s hurting both us and our relationships. At its best, it unites us despite the separation of time and space, allowing us to discover and maintain friendships from long ago or far away. It offers a powerful platform for organizing grass-roots political movements and coordinated disaster-response efforts. However, all of this comes at a cost. How would you feel if you knew that facebook use inflicts measurable, physical pain on nearly every one of its 2.27 billion users?

Pain in the Brain

Let’s start with defining pain. Research has shown that pain consists primarily two components—the sensory and the affective—and those components reside in identifiable parts of the brain. The somatosensory cortices allow us to know where we are injured while the posterior insula tells us how bad it is. The physical experience of pain is what we call the “sensory component.” The “affective component”—provided by the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the anterior insula—gives us the feeling that the pain is unpleasant. (more…)