Occasionally writing this blog takes me to some weird places and this was one such occasion.
It seems that science supports the notion that e-interactions and canine interactions may be as affective as “real” relationships in helping us to live longer and more happily.
Social Connections and Health
It has been well-documented that low levels of social interaction and isolation have been associated with depression and shorter life spans. Family, friends, pets and community involvement can actually prevent or delay some diseases. Lower levels of socialzation are associated with increased health risks, primarily cardiovascular.
Neuroeconomy is a new field that relates brain chemistry to poverty, prosperity and the market. Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist , has suggested that oxytocin is implicated in the relationships that are formed using social media. He goes on to suggest that social media can build trust between companies and consumers. Could the huge popularity of Facebook and Twitter be somehow related to this hormone? Maybe the addiction that some of us feel to Facebook and Twitter is because of this “cuddle hormone” which has been generally accepted as key to the formation of attachments between couples, and mother and child. Maybe that is why we get so attached to Twitter and Facebook!
In one small experiement, Zak measured blood levels of oxytocin (good) and stress hormones (bad) before tweeting and then after ten minutes of tweeting. There was a significant leap in oxy and a drop in the stress hormones. Could tweeting actually be good for your health? Could social media make you live longer?
Zak says that an e-connection has the same effect on your brain and your brain chemistry as would a face-to-face interaction.
Maybe being constantly connected is good for your health. Tweeting, blogging and using Facebook are just other ways to feel connected and feeling connected improves your odds of survival.
Which brings me to dogs and dog training. Kerstin Uvnas – Moberg’s research has shown us that interacting with our dogs causes a spike in oxytocin – in both the dog and the human. Paul Zak’s experiment hints that blogging, tweeting and other social media also raises oxytocin levels and lowers stress levels. So when my dog is in my arms as I tweet away I now know that I am doubling up on two activities which raise oxy levels and lower the chances of cardiovascular disease. I no longer feel lazy and self-indulgent when doing this! It’s good for my health!