According to Vice, your attention is a valuable commodity traded on the internet: the more attention a site has, the more effective the advertising, the more money it can generate from charging advertisers. In order to keep users engaged, Facebook (and all the sites the social media giant owns), has designed its interactive environments to be as addictive as a casino's slot machine, in order for users to get their fix of feeling "connected, validated, and liked."
The easiest way to understand this term is by imagining a slot machine. You pull the lever to win a prize, which is an intermittent action linked to a variable reward. Variable meaning you might win, or you might not. In the same way, you refresh your Facebook updates to see if you've won. Or you swipe right on Tinder to see if you've won.
This is the most obvious way social feedback drives platform engagement, but others are harder to spot.
You know when you open Instagram or Twitter and it takes a few moments to load updates? That's no accident. Again, the expectation is part of what makes intermittent variable rewards so addictive. This is because, without that three-second delay, Instagram wouldn't feel variable. There's no sense of will I win? because you'd know instantly. So the delay isn't the app loading. It's the cogs spinning on the slot machine.
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