Professor Tuman: Sharing News on Social Media Encourages 'Dumbing Down'

Monday, May 21, 2018
Sepia-tone photo of Joseph Tuman standing outdoors

THE CALIFORNIA REPORT, KQED-FM (SAN FRANCISCO) -- The bite-size news snack on Facebook and Twitter have big ramifications, said Joe Tuman, professor and chair of the department of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University.

“It is the sort of thing that encourages this kind of rapid use without really thinking about what any of it means,” Tuman said. “A dumbing down, if you like, of people who have the brain capacity to do much more.”

Tuman said what is really pernicious is that we’re being conditioned to want this shortened content by the format of social media — the scrollable, endless stream of posts all competing for our attention. Facebook and Twitter are not only feeding our desires, but shaping them.

“We sort of become programmed by the technology that was supposedly programmed for us,” Tuman said.

The more we eat the snackable content served up on social media, Tuman said, the more we crave it.