Social Media Slot Machine
Reading Adam Boettiger's blog yesterday (The Cost of Attention), I was thinking how looking at more and more links, status updates, photos and tweets is like being a compulsive gambler. THIS time, c'mon baby, this time I'll find that amazing nugget of information or that incredible insight that will change my world.
Sometimes we're up a little and we're getting a good return on the time we're putting into the social media slot machine. But we're usually down, finding dead ends or trivia that's not even useful as a conversation gambit later on.
This can be an addiction, just like gambling. I've heard that gambling is a misfiring of the way our brains are wired for matching patterns -- when you're playing the slots, your brain is frantically trying to figure out the sequence of events that gives you the flashing lights and makes the coins come out the chute.
Problem is, there is no pattern that works. We're wired to look for that pattern, but slot machines and other games of chance are wired to make you lose.
Reading random stuff online is kind of the same thing. I won't say that it's wired for you to lose, but the more random something is, the less chance you have of ever figuring it out. Just ask weather forecasters in Portland.
Of course, as I said yesterday about finding diamonds in chaos, wonderful things surface in all the random shuffling through all the LOLs and me2s…
But, just like knowing when to walk away from the tables in Vegas, you can have fun, and maybe even get a little something extra out of pulling the lever on the social media slot machine just as long as you don't let it consume you.