I don't read your Facebook feeds because they're boring

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All of us play it. It's checking your email, Facebook, tweets, text messages and the news, hoping to come across something exciting. Are your friends' Facebook feeds and tweets interesting? Do you find most news articles worth reading?

The psychologist B.F. Skinner came up with the idea of random reinforcement. You give the rat a lever and every hundred times it presses the lever, it gets a morsel of food. For the rat, that is exciting. But if the number is a random number - any number between one and one hundred, it becomes even more exciting. The rat keeps on working much more. And if you remove the reward altogether, the rat will still keep working.

This is how the slot/jackpot machine attracts people. You put in a token, pull the lever (if it's the old type of machine) and most of the time you don't win anything - you just lose your token. But people keep playing it for a one in a million chance of hitting the jackpot.


Email and social networks are examples of random reinforcement. You put in a minute of your time to login or hit refresh. Usually, what comes up is uninteresting. But occasionally, you may come across something that is very interesting. That excitement and prospect of winning the jackpot that happens at random intervals keep us coming back for more.

Though we may think of these as merely taking a break or "staying connected", it is distracting and time-consuming if you have business goals or life goals to achieve. (Everybody has some. Many just don't want to work on them).

While some idle browsing is entertaining and acceptable, we should examine how many slots of minute-coins we should be spending without getting anything in return.

I think I already read and watch the news too often (at least daily). Nothing new happens that requires me to take immediate action. I dislike the advertisements on news websites too. It's almost impossible to watch 3 consecutive videos without having to sit through an advertisement. The Straits Times, in particular, is filled with over 60% advertisements and at least one article a day has incorrect grammar. Advertisements tempt me to buy things I don't need, I waste time thinking about how to spend my money and contemplate why I shouldn't buy them.

So dear friends, I don't read Facebook feeds or twitter. Please don't expect me to follow what you posted because I'm not going to click refresh hoping that you'd finally post something which I find interesting. Please do not invite me to play any online games because you'd have just wasted 1 second of my time to click the notification. If you wish to waste your own time, please go ahead but do not waste mine!

1 comments:

David said...

Yu-Kym,

A most surprising post. Your technical expertise is known to all who read your blog.

Actually you show wisdom and understanding what Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media are about.

A new type of social gratification.

I post on FB and Twitter occasionally. I do not tweet where lunch is today or what I am doing every moment of the day. Such is a complete waste of time.

However you are spot on when you state "). Nothing new happens that requires me to take immediate action.

Even if a best friend is dying, there is little you could do to prevent the inevitable.

Waiting for every FB or Tweet makes a twit of such people who long and wait for every new drib and drab from mostly people they will never meet.

I rather enjoy sharing ideas in this format where we can take part in a thoughtful give and take.

Much more satisfying.

Bravo Ms. Loh!!

David