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  • Translator: Ilze Garda Reviewer: Jeong-Lan Kinser

  • Personal life is hard.

  • When I was 7 years old, there was a girl I really liked,

  • but I didn't know how to tell her.

  • I decided I would learn from a 10-year-old who seemed unusually swave.

  • (Laughter)

  • He went up to the girl's porch and drew this: "I love you."

  • He knocked on the girl's door, pointed and said, "I did this for you."

  • And the girl was thoroughly entranced.

  • I decided to follow the same idea,

  • but wanted to show that I mastered words as well as art.

  • So I drew this, "I love you," a female sheep.

  • (Laughter)

  • I knocked on the girl's door, she came out and I said,

  • "I did this for you."

  • She screamed and ran back into the house.

  • It turned out that she had thought

  • I had sacrificed the eyes and the heart of a sheep

  • to prove my devotion.

  • (Laughter)

  • The moral was obvious: 10-year-olds aren't great emotional experts.

  • You could draw the conclusions, too, I suppose.

  • Well, in the 21st century, we have a lot easier ways to learn about emotion,

  • in fact, we are blessed

  • with one of the greatest experts in social and emotional intelligence,

  • Barney the Dinosaur.

  • For those of you who don't recognize him, Barney was the character,

  • incredibly popular on children's television for many years.

  • And as famous as he was, even more famous,

  • was his theme song which started, "I love you, you love me."

  • I'm sure it's familiar to many of you.

  • I decided it'd be important to deconstruct that song, to understand exactly

  • what lessons Barney could teach us about social and emotional life.

  • So, let's start, and forgive the quality of my singing.

  • (Sings) I love you... No, wait a minute!

  • Here is someone who's never met you, will never meet you

  • and is arguably fictional,

  • yet he can claim his deep and abiding love for you.

  • But on the other hand, religious leaders have been doing that for a long time,

  • so maybe it's not so troubling.

  • Right, let's keep going.

  • (Sings) I love you, you love me...

  • Wait!

  • Someone who has never seen you

  • can claim to understand your deepest and most profound feelings,

  • or are they that deep and profound

  • if someone can know them without knowing you, right?

  • (Sings) I love you, you love me, we're a happy family...

  • Stop! (Laughter)

  • There's lots of questions about the changing American family,

  • but whatever it is supposed to look like,

  • it probably didn't include a purple dinosaur.

  • (Laughter)

  • And even more so, it says that family can be people

  • we never actually have to interact with, OK?

  • (Sings) I love you, you love me, we're a happy family,

  • with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you...

  • Stop! (Laughter)

  • I always thought the nice things about hugs and kisses was the physicality,

  • you actually touch someone,

  • but now Barney tells us

  • the mere indication, the virtual is as good as the real.

  • This isn't just symbolism, that's all there is.

  • (Sings) I love you, you love me, we're a happy family,

  • with a great big hug and a kiss from me,

  • won't you say you love me too...

  • Stop!

  • Barney is teaching us that we can express our deepest feelings

  • without ever worrying whether the other person hears it.

  • In fact, we should throw our feelings out into the world,

  • and whoever hears some, is just fine, OK?

  • The second verse is even more frightening,

  • (Laughter)

  • starts the same

  • (Sings) I love you, you love me...

  • and in a line only Mark Zuckerberg would write

  • (Sings) We're friends as friends should be...

  • Stop!

  • Now, of all the models of friendship you imagined,

  • you probably didn't include one that involves never interacting,

  • or seeing, or talking with the person who is your friend.

  • Who are the best friends? Facebook friends.

  • OK, so this is the world of emotion.

  • So we now have to ask the question: "If 10-year-olds won't be experts,

  • if Barney is not an expert, how will we learn about emotion?"

  • Now, you may think that's a misguided question

  • because maybe the idea emotional life is hard, really isn't true.

  • After all, we can all tell that this guy is very happy,

  • even if you ever looked like that, you'd need plastic surgery,

  • he still seems quite content.

  • Conversely, this guy is really mad,

  • the eyebrows and the mouth tell the whole story.

  • So, clearly, we can recognize emotions.

  • In fact, we don't even need faces to indicate emotion,

  • we can tell that the guy on the left is happier and more excited

  • than the person on the right, who is clearly sad and subdued.

  • And in fact, the brain is devoted,

  • in fact, structurally obsessed with emotion.

  • We have parts of the brain devoted to positive emotions,

  • to negative emotions,

  • to detecting, producing, managing emotion in faces,

  • in voices, in words, in body postures,

  • in all sorts of other things.

  • So, really our brains are really good at emotion,

  • all we have to do, is to pay attention, and to think about what we see.

  • Well, paying attention to other people was not really a challenge

  • to most of human history.

  • We've now confronted a revolution which starts

  • in the early and middle stages of the Industrial Revolution,

  • which is partial... oh, I'm sorry.

  • So, emotional intelligence requires attention.

  • But, as I mentioned, to achieve that attention we have to look.

  • And the challenge to that is something called Partial Media Displacement.

  • Very simply, that's a theory that says:

  • "Every time a new technology or service appears,

  • the first thing that happens is pretty obvious.

  • It steals time from other information services."

  • Movies stole time from books, radio stole time from movies,

  • television stole time from radio,

  • internet stole time from television, et cetera.

  • But media are seductive,

  • so after they steel time from other information activities,

  • they also steel time from non-media activities.

  • So our day planner get's more and more filled with media.

  • But what happens when we run out of non-media time to steal from?

  • At that moment, there was an inflection point in history.

  • One thing that could be done was to say:

  • "OK, no more time to steal from non-media,

  • from now on we're going to replace media one-on-one."

  • But that isn't what happened.

  • Instead, we did whatever we do when we have too many things to do,

  • and too little time to do it:

  • we started to double-book media.

  • But the rate of media, new media, gradually accelerated,

  • and then increasingly accelerated.

  • So what do we do then? Did we give up? No.

  • We triple- and quadruple-book media.

  • So, now we find that the top 25% of Stanford media students,

  • media users, for example,

  • use four or more media at one time whenever they are using media.

  • That means whenever they are writing a paper,

  • they are also listening to music, using Facebook,

  • watching YouTube, texting, et cetera.

  • So, there's been a tremendous change

  • in the nature of paying attention with media.

  • What are the consequences of those changes?

  • Well, it turns out

  • that chronic media users pay a strong cognitive price.

  • First of all, they find it very difficult to filter out irrelevant information.

  • Second, they have serious problems with managing working memory.

  • They're also suckers for relevancy:

  • give them something irrelevant, they cannot help but look at it.

  • (Laughter)

  • And finally, and perhaps most surprising, they're even bad at multitasking.

  • They can't actually manage doing multiple things at one time,

  • even though they do it all the time.

  • Now, what's going on here?

  • Is this merely an accident, is this merely some random change?

  • No, it's actually changing the way the human brain works.

  • So, this is the brain scan, a functional magnetic resonance imaging

  • of high and low multi-taskers when asked to do an irrelevant task.

  • The little white dot you see

  • - it's on your right, but it's a left prefrontal cortex -

  • is the extra brainpower used by low multi-taskers,

  • people who don't multitask, when asked to do an irrelevant task.

  • These huge swathes of yellow you see,

  • [is] the extra mental activity used by high multitaskers

  • during something utterly irrelevant to the task at hand.

  • Now, there's a cognitive price for that.

  • Namely, that we have only one storehouse of brain activation.

  • So, if you're spending more than that mental energy on irrelevant tasks,

  • you are not focusing on the relevant.

  • This brain activity suggests that it's not only true of media;

  • what we think is happening

  • is that people are generating habits of mind that are a distraction,

  • and it makes those interactions with other people

  • an invitation to distraction as well.

  • So, here we have people having a meal together

  • (Laughter)

  • here we have people enjoying the beach,

  • and here we have the canonical play date.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, this type of activity,

  • people sitting side by side doing unrelated things right next to each other,

  • is described by psychologists as parallel play.

  • It's a healthy developmental step if you are two to four years old.

  • (Laughter)

  • However, by the time you are 6 or 7,

  • you're supposed to learn to play together and to interact,

  • and that playing together among elementary, junior high, and high school,

  • and college, and adults,

  • helps us to learn the deeper and more profound emotional rule.

  • Now, as we're playing together,

  • we are looking at each other, we are learning from each other,

  • and because we share an environment,

  • we can understand appropriate emotional responses.

  • But if you're doing this,

  • then if anyone of these four people manifests emotion,

  • we can't learn anything

  • because they are each in their own virtual world.

  • You might argue that's so [unclear], that's so 20th century.

  • In the 21st century, we've solved the way around all this

  • and that it textual communication and social media.

  • Let's see what happens there.

  • Well, the first thing to know is that text is intrinsically emotionless.

  • The human brain has not evolved to detect emotion from text,

  • and to manifest emotion richly is going to take skill,

  • that's why we have [unclear] writers, for example.

  • We don't get that with media.

  • A second problem with social media is that it works too slowly.

  • The human face is remarkably mobile.

  • In fact, it can change emotions on the order of a tenth of a second.

  • If you are not paying attention, you're not going to notice that.

  • And if you are not thinking hard, you're not going to know what to do.

  • And, if you see a new emotion, you can't say to the person:

  • "I see an emotion,

  • let me go off, think about what to do, and come back to you."

  • With text, we can be lazy in our emotional life,

  • leading to an emotional atrophy.

  • Another problem with social worlds

  • is that they have become the happiest places on earth.

  • (Laughter)

  • Facebook is filled with smiling and happy people,

  • positive comments get much more likes than negative comments,

  • and there are strong norms against saying too many negative things.

  • But negative things are the really hard ones,

  • the really important ones to learn.

  • As Tolstoy said:

  • "All happy families are alike. And all happy emotions are alike.

  • But each unhappy family is unhappy in a different way.

  • And each unhappy emotion is unique and complex."

  • If we don't get practice doing that,

  • we are not going to learn to have healthy emotional lives.

  • Do we see this playing out?

  • So, the answer is yes, we did a study of 3,400 8-12-year-old girls,

  • and for the first time we looked at media use in general,

  • we looked at multitasking, using multiple media at the time,

  • we looked at face-to-face communication,

  • and we also looked at social and emotional development.

  • The results were sobering.

  • Kids who were heavy multi-taskers, showed a remarkable number of deficits.

  • First of all, they did use media when face-to-face,

  • they did distract themselves when with other kids,

  • they felt less normal about themselves,

  • they had more friends who their parents thought were bad influences,

  • and they had less sleep which is associated with

  • a number of social, emotional, as well as cognitive deficits.

  • Importantly, online media use showed the exact same effects.

  • Was there anything that helped kids develop emotionally?

  • The answer was yes.

  • Face-to-face communication is absolutely magical.

  • Kids who are heavy face-to-face interactants,

  • focused on the other person, not other media,

  • they showed greater social success, felt more normal about themselves,