"It's Not About Winning, It's About Getting Into the Zone": Facebook is Like Gambling


Sun, Aug 4th, 2013 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Quartz, an insanely fascinating article by Alexis Madrigal on how people like Facebook because it's like gambling. Alexis doesn't mean Facebook is addictive -- though we spend an incredible time on it. What it really is about, much like gambling on a slot machine, is getting into the zone, finding "the pleasure of the repeat, the security of the loop."

I know the hypnosis, as I’m sure you do, too. You start clicking through photos of your friends of friends and next thing you know an hour has gone by. It’s oddly soothing, but unsatisfying. Once the spell is broken, I feel like I’ve just wasted a bunch of time. But while it’s happening, I’m caught inside the machine, a human animated GIF: I. Just. Cannot. Stop.

Or maybe it’ll come on when I’m scrolling through tweets at night before bed. I’m not even clicking the links or responding to people. I’m just scrolling down, or worse, pulling down with my thumb, reloading, reloading.

Or sometimes, I get caught in the melancholy of Tumblr’s infinite scroll.

Are these experiences, as Stone would have it, love? The tech world generally measures how much you like a service by how much time you spend on it. So a lot of time equals love.

My own intuition is that this is not love. It’s something much more technologically specific that MIT anthropologist Natasha Schüll calls “the machine zone.”



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