Wasting time on Facebook seems to be the scourge of a technically dependent generation, and all kinds of apps, extensions, and other deterrents have been developed specifically to prevent users from exercising poor Facebook self control.
But the new Pavlov Poke, developed by MIT students, is a bit more brutal.
The students, Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff, invented the Facebook shocker when they discovered that between the two of them, 50 hours of possible productivity went down the social network drain each week.
Initially, the Pavlov Poke grew out of a service they conceived to have people call you on the phone and berate you for excessive Facebook usage. It was not painful enough, however, to simply be chewed out by strangers — and the shocking Facebook invention was born.
Instead of an angry but painless voice, the Pavlov Poke actually painfully shocks you for opening up Facebook in your browser. It’s not a tiny zap either, Morris and McDuff confirm, and is pretty unpleasant for users that willingly install the deterrent.
McDuff says it’s “unpleasant but it’s not dangerous,” adding that the Pavlov Poke’s effectiveness was difficult to determine… because it was too hard to avoid Facebook on purpose and thus, the painful shock:
“We’re not sure [how effective the Facebook shocking is]… To be truly effective, many shock exposures are probably needed. Proper conditioning procedures should be followed. Sadly, we found the shocks so aversive, we removed the device pretty quickly after installing it. Anecdotally, however, I did notice a significant, though temporary, reduction in my Facebook usage.”
While the Pavlov Poke inventors say the project was to a degree tongue in cheek, they also indicate that the possibly deleterious effects of Facebook in part prompted the project.