“People don’t succumb to screens because they’re lazy, but instead because billions of dollars have been invested to make this outcome inevitable.” - Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism


“Rewards delivered unpredictably are far more enticing than those delivered with a known pattern…this same basic behavior is replicated in the feedback buttons that have accompanied most social media posts since Facebook introduced the “Like” icon…“Alter goes on to describe users as “gambling” every time they post something on a social media platform: Will you get likes (or hearts or retweets), or will it languish with no feedback?”

Makes me want to leave all social media, including Mastodon.

“In Paleolithic times, it was important that you carefully managed your social standing with other members of your tribe because your survival depended on it…If lots of people click the little heart icon under your latest Instagram post, it feels like the tribe is showing you approval—which we’re adapted to strongly crave.* The other side of this evolutionary bargain, of course, is that a lack of positive feedback creates a sense of distress.”

Please like, share, or respond to this post so I don’t feel distressed.

@g disable boosts / like notifications and you'll be fine, no more unpredictable dopamine

@yqdl I have done this now, thank you. I'm sure it will help but replies to posts will still trigger unpredictable dopamine

@g think of it like conversation :) is less unpredictable that way

@yqdl Right, in this case we are having a conversation and I do expect responses.

But if I post something, I don't know who's going to respond! Or it could be nobody! I don't know if there is a mindset shift that can convince the primitive brain that it is not going to react like a gamble.

@yqdl Every post that isn't directly to anyone specific is a pull of the slot machine lever.

@g I suppose that's true, but I think it's a poor perspective to hold

would you say the same of interacting with your friends? with a stranger? every action is a pull of the slot machine to see if they respond approvingly?
nobody lives like that
why wouldnt the same be true here?

@g sorry I think I came of more aggressive than I intended

@yqdl Nah you're good.

But I still think these are different brain reactions that have existed for thousands of years.

Sending something out into the ether to see if it gets a response is significantly less predictable than saying something to a friend.

So, yeah, sure they are all pulls of a slot machine.

But the predictability is significantly different between all of these interactions you listed, and the dopamine response is going to be indicative of that as well.

@g hmm, I'm not convinced tbh

I think the intent behind why you do something is far more important than it's predictability. Our ether isn't random, it's a shared space of a select group of people (you can choose who to share with!), I'm not so sure about other socials tho

I think a good metaphor might be going to a bar / club. You can go to one alone looking to get laid, or you could go with your friends to have a nice time. Both are a similar ballpark of unpredictable, but the intent on one makes it much more like playing slots than the other

@yqdl Well I guess that's that, then haha. I don't really have anything else to say on it. :)

@jens to just follow the argument: … and part of a game is that you don’t do it to achieve something else. This is different from social media where you search for information or discussion — and only those use it according to the rules of the game who don’t care about the content. @g

@ArneBab @g Well that's not really true. As each game is composed of smaller games, you do it to set the conditions for starting another game (usually).

@ArneBab @g But I admit, I wasn't really looking for a game design discussion here. More of a trolling attempt at cheap addictive patterns in game design.

@jens I actually just had fun following the argument to its conclusion 🙂 @g

@jens Let me rephrase: You don’t play the game to achieve something outside the game. In this case: I am not in social media to be in social media. I am here for information and learning and showing others what I built.

Gamifying social media is a way to make social media a goal in itself. @g

@ArneBab I can continue to disagree, but bear in mind that I'm doing it for fun as well, not to argue.

Raph Koster argues that games are fun because you're learning. That learning wouldn't necessarily be restricted to in-game lessons. You can learn e.g. from Monkey Island whether or not you like humour based on puns. By that argument, you're playing to achieve self-knowledge outside of the game. Koster is not the only one to make an argument like that.


@ArneBab Koster actually goes so far as to say that the game cannot really impose motivations (aka stuff to achieve) on the player forever; eventually all motivation must come from within, and thus become something to achieve outside the game.


@jens Then what is the intrinsic motivation that follows from hunting likes in social media? Are we training propagandists?

By now I think we should call in @humanetech ☺ (note: this exchange is intended to have fun following arguments, not to have a dry discussion) @g

@ArneBab I actually think the OP explains that well enough, except it may not link this properly (can't find it in the thread, but it's clearly part of the same thread):


@humanetech @g

@ArneBab ,

The link above that @jens posted is of course not enough to truly explain it all, but is the basic reason we seek interactions on social media: in our primitive monkeybrains these signals tell us we are being accepted by our tribe, which was necessary for survival (perhaps still is).


@jens Don’t I know it…my degree is in game design!

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A bunch of technomancers in the fediverse. This arcology is for all who wash up upon it's digital shore.