Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff, two PhD candidates at MIT, estimate that they waste a combined 50 hours a week scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. In an effort to curb their social media addiction, the pair came up with a novel solution called the Pavlov Poke. Named after the famous physiologist Ivan Pavlov, whose bell-ringing experiments on dogs showed proof of a conditional reflex, Morris and McDuff’s device seeks to train humans in a similar way — only with mild electric shocks. The Pavlov Poke is an accessory that plugs into a user’s keyboard and tracks their online habits. Log on to Facebook and BZZZZ — you receive an electric shock (not strong enough to hurt you, but enough to get your attention).
“I would be on Facebook, gorging on pet photos, stuck in some weird hypnotic trance, and it would be minutes or even hours before I realized I had no desire to be there in the first place,” Morris writes. “After a few shock exposures, these automatic behaviors seemed completely rewired. I no longer visited the site unless I wanted to… I still visited the site, but I wasn’t dragged there by some mysterious Ouija-esque compulsion.”
Right now the Pavlov Poke is intended to be just a silly, provocative response to our society’s obsession with social media, but, umm, guys? I WOULD TOTALLY BUY THIS. Just saying.