MIT doctoral candidates Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff spent an estimated 50 hours or more a week on Facebook collectively. They came up with two humorous methods for battling the Facebook habit: first, they posted job ads to hire strangers who would call them for $1.40 and berate them for wasting time online. Second, they developed a keyboard that would zap them with electric shocks if they were on Facebook for too long.
Famed Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov studied conditioning methods with dogs as his test subject. He would ring a bell at feeding time, and eventually the bell alone, without the food, was enough to make the dogs salivate.
Morris and McDuff named their techniques the Pavlov Poke—counter-conditioning methods aimed at creating a negative association with Facebook browsing. “The shock is unpleasant, but not dangerous,” McDuff said in a video about the Poke (see video below).
“Of course, this is meant to be somewhat of a joke,” Morris said. “We just want to illustrate in a fun way the lengths we’ve taken personally to reduce our own online habit.”
A Wikihow.com posting suggests several—less humorous, but perhaps effective—methods of battling Facebook addiction.
One of the keys, according to Wikihow, is examining what Facebook does for you and then figuring out how to get those benefits elsewhere.
For example, some people use Facebook to see what’s happening in their friends’ lives. Wikihow suggests making a goal of calling or emailing your five closest friends who live afar once a week or once a month instead.
Some people want social interaction. Wikihow suggests going to lunch with a coworker instead. Some people like to share photos. Wikihow suggests joining Instagram or another photo-sharing website where you can choose to share photos with friends and family members.