28 February 2017

How technology gets us hooked

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From a young age, humans love to press buttons that light up and make a noise. The thrill of positive feedback lies at the heart of addiction to gambling, games, and social media, reports Adam Alter for The Guardian.

“The sense of creating something that requires labour and effort and expertise is a major force behind addictive acts that might otherwise lose their sheen over time. It also highlights an insidious difference between substance addiction and behavioural addiction: where substance addictions are nakedly destructive, many behavioural addictions are quietly destructive acts wrapped in cloaks of creation. The illusion of progress will sustain you as you achieve high scores or acquire more followers or improve your skills, and so, if you want to stop, you’ll struggle ever harder against the drive to grow. […]

Humans find the sweet spot sandwiched between “too easy” and “too difficult” irresistible. It’s the land of just-challenging-enough computer games, financial targets, work ambitions, social media objectives and fitness goals. It is in this sweet spot – where the need to stop crumbles before obsessive goal-setting – that addictive experiences live.”

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