Been a few weeks; figure I should say something. Neglecting my journal in lieu of posting quick status updates on Facebook. I hate that site, because I keep going back to it, clicking “Refresh”, hoping something good pops up. Psychologists have learned all about the strength of randomized rewards, and how it can best be used to illicit specific behaviors.
Essentially, you put a rat in a Skinner box — a training environment with a paddle, food dispenser (for rewards), and electrified floor (for punishment) — and set the food system to eject a pellet after a certain number of paddle presses. If you configure the system to eject a pellet every time the rat pushes the paddle, it’ll learn to push the paddle once, get its food, and move along. If you configure it to eject after a high number of pushes, the rat will lose interest because there’s probably easier food sources elsewhere. But, if you make it eject randomly, sometimes the rat will get the food quickly, sometimes it will have to work for it, and for that reason it keeps going at it, hoping that at some point soon it will get its food.
And so it is with Facebook. And so it is with email. And so it is with slot machines, lottery, chat rooms, coffeeshops, bars, blogs, anything where chance is a component of a quick reward. The chance that someone in my many groups will say something funny, drop an important piece of info, post a hilarious picture, or provide commentary on something I posted, that keeps me going back. Keeps me hitting “Refresh” to the detriment of the rest of my life. I don’t want to say I’m sick, but there it is; I get addicted more easily than I can resist. And that pisses me off.