Google “Food Sex Facebook“, and it starts getting scientific around hit #5. Everybody’s hot and bothered by a study that tried to check how much undergraduates like to talk about themselves. Result? “…humans so willingly self-disclose because doing so represents an event with intrinsic value, in the same way as with primary rewards such as food and sex.”
Facebook is mentioned nowhere in the study, but that’s on every headline (have a look at those Google results). Twitter is mentioned in the study … exactly once … in the very first sentence.
Here’s what we know: the authors looked into their crystal fMRI, and saw what they think was dopamine being released when the students were self-disclosing, and they related this to sex and food. You know what else releases dopamine? 30 minutes pushing the lawnmower, a smoker’s cigarette after a long flight, a thrilling game of bridge. But let’s think semiotically: “Signs function … not through their intrinsic value but through their relative position.” The study’s authors could have said ‘…in the same way as primary rewards such as moderate exercise and Yahtzee!” Odds are that nobody would have picked up this story were it not for the juxtaposition of a certain behaviour with food and sex. Why food and sex? Because they’re basic survival needs. And because it can make you reshape your categories.
Here’s a test.
Finish the following series: Ford, Chevrolet, ….
What comes next? Peach or Chrysler?
Finish the following series: Food, Sex, …
What comes next?