Social Media and Variable Ratio Reinforcement Schedules

Why social media is addictive:

“Intermittent reinforcement works better. … 9 of out 10 things in my feed are complete garbage—last week’s newspaper lining the birdcage with the droppings already on it—but then once every two weeks I find out my niece is engaged or my best friend got a great new job or my oldest friend is in town and I should make plans to hang out. And now no matter how full the Facebook feed is of bird droppings I still have to keep going back.”
Joel Spolsky

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Sean Parker, first president of Facebook

“[I]f you are addicted to social media, you are not just weak willed. Console yourself by realising that you are instead a pigeon, in a box, pecking at a lever interminably.”
B.F. Skinner Likes Your F.B. Status

“Variable ratio: rapid, steady rate of responding; most resistant to extinction.”
Operant Conditioning: “Reinforcement”, Wikipedia

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