Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Passion Party #280 - Instant Gratification

If B. F. Skinner had wanted to create a tool to test his behavioral theories on people, he would have invented the "smart phone".
Skinner, you may remember from psychology class, was the guy who believed that animals (and people) could be conditioned to perform a task over and over again if there was a strong enough reward.

The task with a smart phone, more often than not, is to push a button to check your email. The reward you get is a change of information on a screen that gives you a sense that you are connected to society, that you are wanted, that you are important.

So why not check your smart phone when you get in the elevator, despite having checked it, say, 45 seconds ago?

This human desire for instant gratification from a stimulus-response mechanism is not all that different from alcohol or cigarettes - it is an addiction, one that keeps us from being where we are.

Today when I get in the elevator, I will say hello to the people around me.

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