All apps (especially social silos) want to keep you engaged; they want you to enter what Natasha Schüll calls “the machine zone.” It’s the same level of engagement casino players feel when sitting in front of a slot machine.
What is the machine zone? It’s a rhythm. It’s a response to a fine-tuned feedback loop. It’s a powerful space-time distortion. You hit a button. Something happens. You hit it again. Something similar, but not exactly the same happens. Maybe you win, maybe you don’t. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s the pleasure of the repeat, the security of the loop.
The night that I decided I had to kick my Facebook account to the curb I was doing some typical late night coding and decided to take a break around 2:00am. I hopped on facebook and the next thing I knew it was 5:30am and I had been mindlessly clicking on links and browsing images of people I didn’t know on. I let out an audible “wtf?” and decided it was time to shut down access to the silo. So I did.
That’s why the title slug of the article below hit close to home. I understand the appeal of social media and I don’t knock anyone for using it; it just turns out that it wasn’t for me.