As a millennial and a writer, I’ve lived out my entire adolescence and young adulthood online, in the company of strangers. When I was a teenager, I had a Xanga account, then a Myspace, and even a LiveJournal for a period of time, filled with Bollywood lyrics and musings on how Tom Hanks was (and is) the perfect man. Now those have all been replaced by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so many other venues where I can tap out whatever’s in my brain and send it off into the abyss.
These days, I try to keep my online presence more professional, using Twitter mostly to seek out sources and retweet Anderson Cooper. But if you scroll back through years’ worth of material on my social-media accounts, you’ll find posts that are completely all over the map. I’ve used Facebook to exalt Hanson’s Snowed In album, to rave about the Duggar family’s tater-tot-casserole recipe (it’s delicious, fight me), and to recap episodes of Dance Moms. My Twitter is even worse, hosting gems like Do you ever just Google different kinds of cakes and daydream about eating them? and Idris Elba could run my dog over with his car and I’d still love him.
A few days ago, I came across a study about randomness that’ll likely ring true for anyone else who’s starting to regret the stuff they spewed on Twitter in their early 20s. In research published last month in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, mathematician Nicholas Gauvrit and his team at the LABORES Scientific Research Lab, a research institution in Paris, discovered that when it comes to random thinking and decision-making, a person’s ability peaks at about age 25 and then gradually declines for the next several decades, eventually dropping off sharply at around age 60.
Gauvrit’s team came to its conclusion after assessing nearly 4,000 people…