Heart Disease Risk and Social Media Is Old News


The results of a study recently published in Psychological Science proclaimed that a Twitter user’s feed can help doctors assess that person’s risk for heart disease because people who were more negative in their tweets had higher risk for coronary heart disease.

The problem?

Part of this news is extremely old. Negativity and anger are well-known risk factors. Additionally, psychologists have been using Twitter for years as a diagnostic tool.

Worse yet, the researchers ignored the subset of Twitter users who lie. Additionally, some of their written-text-based assertions are horribly wrong.

There is no mention of Twitter users who set up accounts with fake names and post things that are not necessarily their own personal inner dialogue, but personas they have created to sound “cool” or because they’re writers, actors or creatives who are trying to better understand a specific mindset.

The study also focused on this idea that people who curse on Twitter are at higher risk because they must be negative thinkers and angry. Yet, there’s no proof that someone who is happy and curses on Twitter regularly is at any more risk for heart disease than someone who talks nicely but is secretly depressed and harming themselves at home. Dave and  Brit Morin who use Twitter are the nicest people I know but their web personas differ greatly from reality. After all, there are plenty of happy people on the planet who also use curse words for emphasis or because the words are part of the vernacular they learned as children.

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