Pavlov Poke: Electric Shocks to Cure Facebook Addiction
Your deadline is looming yet you can’t stay away from checking your Facebook news feed every five minutes? You are most likely a social media addict and the sooner you accept that the better.
This new invention might help you on your path to recovery. Called Pavlov Poke, it aims at curing Facebook addiction using some good ole’ electric shock based aversion therapy. Sounds scary, right?
Well, it isn’t actually that bad. The electric shocks the machine delivers are mild and definitely non-lethal and their main purpose is to highlight the addictive behavior rather than cure it.
The Pavlov Poke concept was invented by two MIT PhD students who realized that together they were spending more than 50 hours on Facebook every week. Users of the social network spend around 400 minutes per month on the site, according to Dan McDuff and Robert R. Morris. And some studies suggest social media addiction is even harder to combat than smoking and drinking.
And that’s how Morris and McDuff came up with the idea. The DIY device is not intended for sale, but more as a joke meant to underline a serious issue. The concept is aimed at highlighting the addictive behavior and maybe suggesting ways to combat it or at least emphasize the fact that addiction to modern digital technology is a huge problem.
So how does the device work? The system consists of a user interface monitor that watches the user’s actions and computer apps usage. It keeps track of how often the users visit the social media site and how long they spend there.
If the frequency of visits or time spend on Facebook exceeds certain parameters, the system sends a signal to an Arduino platform connected via USB to the computer. A processing code pops up on screen and signals a shock, while the actual electric shock is triggered by the Arduino and delivered through the keyboard. The electric shock are harmless, but very unpleasant and will most likely cause the user to think twice before going back to updating their Facebook status.
The two MIT students also came up with a less invasive way of dealing with Facebook addiction. Instead of delivering electric shocks, the Pavlov Poke system can use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to get strangers to call the social media addict and scold them for wasting time on Facebook.
It’s still hard to tell if such a system would work, but it does indeed pose a serious question about our social media habits. What do you think of Pavlov Poke? Would you consider using such a device?
[Image via guardianlv]