Resistance Watch

Two from Monday’s WSJ.

1. David Benoit in a front-page story on Apple writes,

A leading activist investor and a pension fund are saying the smartphone maker needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction.

2. Regular columnist Chris Mims writes,

In the face of pressure brought by a growing roster of Facebook investors and former executives, many of whom have publicly stated that Facebook is both psychologically addictive and harmful to democracy, the Facebook founder and chief executive has pledged to “fix” Facebook by doing several things, including “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

For a while, the term “gamify” was big in educational technology. The thinking was (and perhaps still is) that if you turn learning into a game, you can improve educational outcomes.

With social media, we have gamified social interaction. When people share, they look for rewards in the form of positive responses.

I am not a fan of this gamification, in either setting.

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7 Responses to Resistance Watch

  1. Effem says:

    Isn’t capitalism in large part “gamification.” What is marketing if not constantly pulling levers to see which creates the most impact on potential consumers. A large percentage of such levers have the ability to end somewhere resembling addiction.

    • Slocum says:

      That’s been the worry for a long time. Before social media, the hand-wringing was about the addictive qualities of television. Before that, it was comic books, and before comic books, trashy ‘dime novels’ were the scourge.

      Of course producers try to do what they can to get customers ‘hooked’ and keep them that way. But still they fail. A lot. Customers are fickle. They get bored with the old and intrigued by the new. Fads are popping up all the time. And sometimes people even give things up because they don’t think they’re healthy or realize they don’t like being hooked any more. Think of all the sophisticated producers of supposedly addictive products who’ve run into trouble — McDonald’s and ESPN, for example. Remember when Krispy Kreme was going to take over the world? And social networking is not invulnerable:

      https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/facebook-is-facing-a-demographic-time-bomb

      My own kids, now in their 20s, use Facebook much less than they used to. For them, it is now pretty much only a messaging platform.

      • Effem says:

        Agree, but in aggregate isn’t it possible we are seeing the expected deleterious effects. Despite all of our prosperity “on paper” I get a general feeling that people are less happy then they have been in a long time. Substance abuse and mental health issues are rampant; lifespan has leveled off.

        I’m lean libertarian, and am a fan of letting people make their own choices. But I am under no pretense that such choices turn out well in aggregate.

    • Weir says:

      What is school?

      Pulling levers. Already. The reward is the elephant stamp. To impress the teacher.

      David Foster Wallace:

      “Pretty much all I’ve ever done all the time is try to create a certain impression of me in other people. Mostly to be liked or admired. It’s a little more complicated than that, maybe. But when you come right down to it it’s to be liked, loved. Admired, approved of, applauded, whatever. You get the idea. I did well in school, but deep down the whole thing’s motive wasn’t to learn or improve myself but just to do well, to get good grades and make sports teams and perform well. To have a good transcript for varsity letters to show people. I didn’t enjoy it much because I was always scared I wouldn’t do well enough. The fear made me work really hard, so I’d always do well and end up getting what I wanted. But then, once I got the best grade or made All City or got Angela Mead to let me put my hand on her breast, I wouldn’t feel much of anything except maybe fear that I wouldn’t be able to get it again.”

      He dropped out of Harvard because of one addiction, but he got into Harvard because of this other addiction. Of course the one was tied up with the other. This one parasite inside him made him this huge success. And a dropout. And famous. And miserable.

  2. Iskander says:

    The “Facebook is harmful to democracy” view always cracks me up. People vote differently to you, that’s democracy I’m afraid. Whether Democracy is the best tool for the job, now that’s a different question.

  3. Weir says:

    There’s the Dave Franco movie Nerve, or the video for the Duke Dumont song Real Life. Every second episode of Black Mirror.

    So there’s resistance everywhere. MTV. Netflix. Movies.

    There’s an episode of Community about an app called MeowMeowBeenz. It’s about exactly this.

    Humans and chimpanzees are obsessed with their place in the status hierarchy, but what this one psych major named Mark Zuckerberg did was to attach an exact numerical figure to a person’s social standing.

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