I’m a sucker for playing games and often times, even while playing them, I feel I’m being controlled by a system.
Airline miles and attaining “status” were a weakness and I’d often take into account maximizing mileage accumulation as a factor in decision making for a trip. Often, usually while flying back on a redeye through a strange connection, I’d think to myself “why did I do this?”
It’s the same with Waze. I get this dopamine hit when I report some vehicle stopped on the side of the road. The weekly report about how I helped so many people reels me back in.
Gamification became all the rage after Nir Eyal came out with his book Hooked that showed how to get users to come back for me. This led to runaway attention grabbing and Nir followed up with the book Indistractable to try to counter the influence.
The taking of our attention and focus is something that’s going to continue and will become worse. We will need smarter ways of carving out attention time and getting us adjusted to the painful boringness of doing our best work.
Otherwise, we’re just click puppets of the machines.