On rats and the internet (a brief aside)

The thing about steroids is you can end up getting quite excited about ridiculous stuff. Particularly when you are supposed to be sleeping. Message boards online are full of 3am long excitable/angry emails from myeloma patients.

Anyway, I took my supposedly drowsy pill an hour ago: no effect so far. Tess also just wrote a nice comment which made me think about something and some nice pictures in a book I have. I tried to put this into a comment and couldn’t. I therefore feel COMPELLED to write a post in order to share with you all my pearls of wisdom. I will then go to bed. I hope.

So, I, like many of us, have noticed the addictive qualities of email, Facebook, Youtube, twitter (ish), and indeed the whole goddamned internet.

I’m no psychology expert, but  once read a picture book about it, as below:



It’s a great book. This doesn’t mean I really understand it. Nonetheless, this is my blog and that’s all the qualification I need to pontificate.

In my fine theory, part of the compulsion of these internet sites we check and re-check is that the result is variable in terms of what emotional ‘hit’ you get and when, with (frequently) no ‘hit’. Checking the page is like the rat tapping the lever, on this first page. Refresh. Refresh. Give me some emotional food, internet!

As Skinner found, hungry rats will keep pressing levers indefinitely if occasional pellets are given:



Getting the emotional hit is variable, rather than fixed, as below: sometimes there is something which makes us laugh, or cry, or rage, or gasp. Sometimes there is a big news story, sometimes our friends say something witty or do something scandalous. Sometimes all is deathly dull and boring and your soul feels just a little bit more dusty from having read whatever dross you have just read, or a bit more lonely from seeing the empty inbox. But who’s to say, if you click again in five minutes, once you’ve done the round of all the sites, that something incredible might not just have happened, or been said, or been sent to you? Refresh. Refresh. Keep pushing that lever, just on the off-chance. 


Still, I came to the conclusion that this is just part of life. Banning it fails as a strategy, in my case at any rate. And in the end, sites like this are (I believe) emotionally nourishing, for the most part at least.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of my-eloma, my-arse and my-life, my posts will be variable in terms of timing. Some flurries, some gaps.

You are therefore being operantly conditioned to the max by this blog. Suck it up, my rat-pigeon friends ;-)

Yours, hoping my brain will turn off soon so I can go to sleep.

Helga the Rat-Pigeon x