Antisocial Media

Cut Down on that Pesky Facebook Habit by Electrocuting Yourself

'Pavlov's Poke' just might cure you.
(Photo: Hackeducation.com)

(Photo: Hackeducation.com)

Now that we’ve all learned how much Facebook makes us despise ourselves and our loved ones, the trick is figuring out how to quit it. A pair of MIT Ph.D. candidates have taken a cue from Ivan Pavlov and his dogs, using electric shocks to zap themselves out of the habit.

Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff created the Pavlov Poke, a system that sends a signal to an Arduino board that administers a shock every time a user logs into Facebook, TechCrunch reports. The shock is “unpleasant but it’s not dangerous,” Mr. McDuff is quoted as saying.

The two were so put off by the shocks that they stopped using the device “pretty quickly after installing it,” Mr. Morris told TechCrunch. “Anecdotally, however, I did notice a significant, though temporary, reduction in my Facebook usage.”

They also created another device that has strangers yell at them over the phone when they use Facebook. Mr. Morris and Mr. McDuff “believe a serious discussion is needed about how communication technologies are designed,” Mr. Morris told TechCrunch, noting that Facebook, like smoking, has “incredibly high engagement metrics” but can be “extremely bad for its users.”

True, Facebook usually just disappoints us and highlights the most annoying qualities of our acquaintances, yet we still go back again and again. A few electric shocks are nothing compared to the time we’ve all wasted on the site since its inception.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com