Sunday, October 12, 2008

My favorite gamble

Folks, I've discovered the problem.

The problem is that checking people's blogs is addictive. When I'm home I have a routine I perform when I get on the internet: I check my emails in various accounts, look at my online calendar, check facebook (which I really need to phase out... bleh), and I check a few friend's blogs to see if they have added anything new. One hour later, repeat. Two hours later, repeat. And so on and so forth.

Now, emails have a somewhat organic flow to them: they come and they go, and I basically don't find it a huge waste of time to check them briefly in order to stay on top of things. Emails come from hundreds of different sources, so there's even a decent chance that I will have new mail.

However, what are the chances that blogs will have new posts every few hours? With rarely more than ONE person contributing to a blog, the chances that I will be rewarded with a delightful new entry is fairly slim, unless I am checking tons and tons of different blogs (but I obsessively check only four). So why do I keep up this addiction?

The answer is because the pay-off rate is random, which makes practices addictive, in the same way that gambling is addictive. In a lot of psychological experiments with rats and pigeons and other unsuspecting creatures, they have found that if the animal is rewarded on a random schedule for performing a behavior (such as pushing a button for a deposit of cheese), the behavior increases more when the animal is rewarded with the cheese on a random schedule than if the animal were rewarded every third time they performed the behavior. If the reward comes on a predictable basis, behavior slows down; if it is unpredictable, behavior increases. So, checking blogs rewards me very randomly, as does dropping coins in a slot machine for people in Las Vegas, which in turn leads to addiction and a loss of something - money in some cases, or in my case, time and a portion of sanity.

And blogging is not slowing down in my life. I feel like the number of people who are blogging is increasing, and I frequently hear about new friends joining the blogging circle. What?! More blogs to check and more time to waste visiting the same unaltered blogs? NO! Google has brought about the revolution: with googlereader it is possible to be informed when there is activity in your friend's blogs, thus minimalizing the need for you to obsessively be checking an entire list of your favorite blogs. The good news: this meeting of Blog Checker's Anonymous can now be adjourned.


TD said...

loving the book u recommened, picked it up at the used book store in town, just in time for our weekend flight to Iowa. It is awesome. U are awesome, from miles away u are in tune, thanks. My life needs u.

Marie said...

Wow, Metta. You described me to a T! And I loved your very smart, scientific explanation of why rats and mice liked to be rewarded. That is so much how I feel. It's too fun and too addictive!

Drew and Alicia said...

Hey, we found ya. Nice blog and excellent photography. This posting was very well described. Thanks for a great FHE lesson. See you in the big leagues. Alicia,Drew, and Korven.

Drew and Alicia said...

I forgot to tell ya, you can subscribe to your favorite blogs and then you have only one spot to check that will tell you who has updated!

Lauren said...

I never knew that there was a science to my blog-checking madness. You are amazing.