addictive nature of slot machines

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Addictive nature of slot machines

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And it manages time differently. For gamblers, the only temporal rhythm that matters is the sequence of encounters with destiny, the run of luck. For drug users, what matters is the rhythms of the high, whether it is the stationary effect of opium or the build, crescendo and crash of alcohol. The experience of platform users, on the other hand, is organised in a trance-like flow.

The user is plunged into a stream of real-time information and disciplined to stay constantly ahead of it. Twitter highlights not the time and date of posts, but their age and thus currency: 4m, or 12h, as the case may be.

Financial speculators would become absorbed in watching the signals conveyed on stock market ticker tape, vigilant to every minute variation in a real-time flow. That is to say the timestamp, like the coded information on the ticker tape, is information about the state of the game. It enables users to place an informed bet. If social-media platforms are like casinos, then they build on the existing extension of gambling in the neoliberal era.

Whereas gambling was controlled in a paternalistic way in the postwar era, laws have been increasingly liberalised in the past 40 years. Today, the majority of Britons gamble in some form, most commonly through the National Lottery. Similar transformations have taken place in the US and Canada, and the European Commission has pressured holdouts including Italy, Austria and France to liberalise. All of this has taken place concurrently with waves of financial liberalisation, wherein capitalist dynamism was increasingly dependent on the bets and derivative bets of the stock market.

And there is a logical convergence between financialisation and tech. Culturally, the idea of life as a lottery — one that only a few magical adepts know how to work — has gained widespread traction both as a folk social theory and as an explanation for human misfortune. This links gambling to destiny and divine judgment in a way that reaches back to its earliest expressions. As the late literary scholar Bettina Knapp explained, the use of gambling as a divinatory device, as a way to work out what the supreme being wants of us, has been found in Shintoism, Hinduism, Christianity and the I Ching.

At several points in the Bible, the drawing or casting of lots is used to discern divine will. In essence, the lot or die is a question about fate, posed to a superpower. Something similar happens when we post a tweet or a status or an image, where we have little control over the context in which it will be seen and understood. It is a gamble. The cliche holds that the social media platforms administer social approval in metrically precise doses.

But that is like treating gambling as if it were only about the payoffs. Every post is a lot cast for the contemporary equivalent of the God of Everything. What we are really asking for when we post a status is a verdict. In telling the machine something about ourselves, whatever else we are trying to achieve, we are asking for judgment. And everyone who places a bet expects to lose. F or all the obsession with gratification, the most obvious attribute of addiction in its negative sense is that it kills.

And nor is this a purely physical death. Compulsive gamblers administer death in a symbolic sense, too, building up unpayable debts to the point where they lose everything they have lived for. Social-media addiction is rarely understood in this extreme light. Nonetheless, users often describe it wrecking their careers and relationships.

The complaints are almost always the same: users end up constantly distracted, unproductive, anxious, needy and depressed — yet also curiously susceptible to advertising. This claim, while not supported by the research, would mean more profitable data for the site. The dominant view of these self-destructive propensities was vividly explained by addiction entrepreneur, the late Allen Carr.

In a macabre image, he compared addiction to a carnivorous pitcher plant. The plant lures insects and small animals to their death with the fragrant smell of nectar. Once the creature is inside, gazing down at that delicious pool of sugary liquid, it finds the walls slippery and waxy, then slides down, with growing speed, falling into what it discovers is a watery grave.

By the time it realises that the pleasure is a mirage, it is too late to escape, and it is consumed by digestive enzymes. But it also condenses how we tend to think of the dark side of addiction — as something that ambushes the user, lured by a simple promise of pleasure.

The problem is that widespread knowledge of the dangers of addiction does not stop it from happening. Likewise, we know by now that if social media platforms get us addicted, they are working well. The more they wreck our lives, the better they are functioning. Yet we persist. Some of this can be explained away by the manner in which addiction organises our attention. The platforms, like gambling machines, are experts at disguising losses as wins.

We focus on the buzz of winning, not the cost of playing the game, and not the opportunities lost by playing. And if occasionally the habit threatens to crush us, we can fantasise that one day a big win will save us. But to explain away behaviour is not really to explain it. It is to collude in the rationalisation of behaviour that may not be rational. The prevalence of addiction raises a troubling question: is self-destruction, in some perverse way, what we are seeking?

What if we dive into the pitcher plant in part because we expect a slow death? What if, for example, the images of death and disease on the cigarette packet are an advertisement? Of course, it is not what is consciously sought. Heroin users are always trying to rediscover the bliss of the first hit. Compulsive gamblers live for those manic moments when their strategy seems to have paid off with a big win.

But if it was really all about dopamine loops keeping us fixated on the next hit, it would be difficult to explain why random hits of unpleasure would make social media even more gripping. The platforms treat us mean and keep us keen. On Twitter, if the replies to your tweet vastly outnumber the likes and retweets, you have gambled and lost. Whatever you have written is so outrageous, so horrible, that you are now in the zone of the shitstorm.

The notorious examples of this involve corporate CEOs, politicians and celebrities, ostensibly on the medium for professional purposes, pushing the self-destruct button with an awful post. But the telling examples are not those tweets where there is a momentary lapse in good public relations, but those where intelligent users become embroiled in horrendous, undignified, self-destructive fights with their followers.

Consider, for example, Mary Beard, a Cambridge historian who maintains a profile on Twitter filled with amiable selfies, centre-left views and chat with fans. She seemed to be relativising the behaviour of rapists. Would she be saying this, people wondered, if the victims were white? Beard was presumably unaware of any racist implication of her argument, but it was striking that she chose this medium as the place to make it.

And perhaps just as significant was how ordinary that decision was. Twitter is good for witty banter; the lapidary concision of a tweet makes any putdown seem brutally decisive. Exactly for that reason, it is a terrible place to idly propose provocative theses. In the ensuing shitstorm, blizzards of concise, lethal replies were launched in her direction. Disappointed followers declared their disaffection. Beyond a certain critical mass, it stopped mattering how accurate the criticisms were.

The shitstorm is not a form of accountability. Nor is it political pedagogy, regardless of the high-minded intentions, or sadism, of the participants. No one is learning anything, except how to remain connected to the machine. It is a punishment beating, its ecstasies sanctioned by virtue. Twitter has, as part of its addictive repertoire, democratised punishment. Rather than backing away from the medium in open-mouthed horror and reconsidering her whole approach to the issue, Beard remained entranced by the flow.

As so many users have done, she spent hours upping the ante, trying to rebut, engage and manage the emotional fallout from the attack. Hurt feelings, trivial in the scale of human woe, were being used to evade political accountability. Besides, sotto voce , hurt feelings are delicious, but not enough. Still, Beard kept returning. It was, in its own way, a form of digital self-harm. The mirror that had told her how awesome she was now called her a scumbag, and it was clearly irresistible.

On the Twittering Machine, no such efforts are needed. You just have to keep playing and wait for it. Come for the nectar of approval, stay for the frisson of virtual death. The Twittering Machine gives us both positive and negative reinforcements, and the unpredictable variation of its feedback is what makes it so compulsive.

Like a mercurial lover, the machine keeps us needy and guessing; we can never be sure how to stay in its good graces. Indeed, the app manufacturers increasingly build in artificial-intelligence machine-learning systems so that they can learn from us how to randomise rewards and punishments more effectively. This sounds like an abusive relationship. Toxicity is a useful starting point for understanding a machine that hooks us with unpleasure, because it indexes both the pleasure of intoxication and the danger of having too much — hence the clinical term for the administration of toxic substances, toxicomania.

The Renaissance natural philosopher Paracelsus is credited with a major insight of modern toxicology: the dose, not the substance, makes the poison. If toxicity is having the wrong dose, what are we overdosing on? Even with drugs, the answer is not straightforward.

As pointed out by Rik Loose, the author of The Subject of Addiction, similar quantities of the same drug administered to different individuals have widely varying effects. In other venues, sports lovers get together to place bets on players and teams, motivated by their genuine love of the game. Many public events mix gambling with entertainment.

Opening Day of the horse-racing season features the most outrageous hat contest, Mint Juleps steal the show at the Kentucky Derby, and accordingly, for many attendees, the focus is on mingling instead of gambling. Even in casinos, many players like the social aspect of sitting at a poker or craps table where they can meet other people, and the potential to win money is only one of the perks. For others, however, gambling is addictive.

Some have a mistaken belief that they are actually going to hit the jackpot. Others are not focused on money, but improving their mood. Slots as Self- Medication. Slot machines are often displayed as bright, shiny objects. Similar to video games, they feature creative, trendy themes, bright colors, flashing lights, and a combination of sights and sounds designed to lure potential customers.

Appropriately, Mike J. Dixon et al. Unlike lotteries, slot machine payoffs when they occur are immediate, often accompanied by attention -grabbing music and high-tech animations. Yet dark flow itself was linked with positive affect while playing. Specifically for people reporting significant symptoms of depression in daily life, dark flow produced increased positive affect while playing, thus explaining the seduction of slot machines as a means of escape. Accordingly, gambling problems were predicted by the combined effect of depression and dark flow.

Slot machines have wide appeal to the older women age 55 or older. It is a low cost way to spend an hour or so relative to other activities that cost a lot more per hours such as a massage, dinner, even a round of golf. It is safe for a woman to go there at all hours of the day, and they can be with another human being without having to interact - thus less energy is expended.

Older women see slots as being social, engaging and fun. Most people see slot machines as being something that appeals to the older female - and they are correct. Casinos are trying to optimize their facilities to entice Millennials, who have different gambling habits relative to the over 55 population , and to widen slot machine appeal so younger people will head to them. I agree that slots can be a fun way to pass the time. If you select an older machine that lets you spend 25 cents per spin.

You should select a machine with a low jackpot amount. Those machines are programmed to give you more small wins. They also don't require that you select the "Max Bet" button in order to win the bigger payouts. You should also pull the lever for each spin. The idea is to reduce your "Expected Hourly Loss". Every gambling activity in the casino has an expected hourly loss. Slot machines allow the gambler more control over how much you will lose per hour.

What I have observed of the older women you describe is that few of them play slots the way I do. Most press that Max-Bet button constantly. Many sit at the Progressive Slot Machines that are linked to a server. Those machines don't pay well. Those machines give out a lot of false wins. Some of the ladies hit that Max-Bet button so fast that they don't even acknowledge the outcome of the previous spin. I was congratulating her on a big win a hand-pay where an attendant has to come out with the IRS forms.

She wanted me to know that she doesn't feel like a winner considering how much she already lost. This applies to older men, too. He would get occasional hits, but never showed any emotion. Dotty's is a chain of small neighborhood casinos that caters to women aged 35 and older, with a clean, well-lit atmosphere meant to invoke "your grandmother's kitchen".

The reason they're doing so well is that a lot of women don't like big casinos. They don't feel safe there. If you ever visit Las Vegas you'll see Dotty's casinos all over the place. Often in shopping centers. They have free snacks and the cheapest cigarette prices in town. They feel more like a Denny's restaurant than a casino.

Most Dotty's locations operate under a "restricted" gaming license, allowing up to 15 slot machines in a business, so there are fewer distractions for someone that just wants to play the slots. This allows them to quickly remodel the space and bypass the red-tape of getting the license. Several established casinos have tried to fight Dotty's. They don't like losing their steady customers.

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