Gmail and Slot Machines

I’m continuing my “check e-mail once a day” experiment. I just realized that checking my e-mail is like playing slot machines. It’s fucking addictive: Why is Slot Machine Gambling Considered “The Crack Cocaine” of Gambling Addiction?. I think they work through the same mechanism of intermittent reinforcement. Sometimes I check my e-mail and there’s something new in the inbox. Reward! Sometimes I check and there’s nothing new, or just spam. No reward. Play again later.

The reason why I checked my e-mail so often was because it was like a slot machine. Press a button, hope for reward. Because of the intermittent reinforcement, I became more addicted.

The same thing happens with blogs, too. I check for updates and feel a reward when I find an update amongst the myriad blogs I check everyday.

I’m going to work on one addiction at a time, though. So far, so good with the e-mail. I kind of self-medicate with other drugs (e.g. blogs) to get me through sometimes. Yesterday, however, my desire to check other things on the internets actually decreased. Not sure if that was actual spillover (a la cleaning my desk at random times), or just a blip. In any case, the focus is still e-mail.

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