You’ve all seen the posts on Social Media and on your mobile: Why is this game so hard? Only 10% of people can see this picture. Only 2% of people can score over 50% on this test. Etc, etc, etc. Of course the game isn’t hard and you are looking at it thinking, ‘it’s not hard to me, I must be very clever.’ The picture is obvious, so you’re thinking, ‘I must be special, I can see it.’ The quiz is easy so you score 99% and feel great. You are being manipulated. Why are we so gullible? What is it about Social Media in particular, but wider into games for our mobiles, that makes us so gullible?
I know that all these things are advertising ploys and I have always known that. I used to work in marketing many years ago. I understand some of the methods. But I can still feel good if I see a picture instantly that I am being told is hard, or spot a number sequence supposedly hidden, or get a high score in an easy quiz. I guess the reason is that it’s still satisfying, even if we know we are being duped.
When we go into an arcade and drop coins in one of those push and shove coin balance machines. We know from experience that we will never get as much back as we put in. But we still enjoy it. When we watch a really obvious murder mystery on TV and guess the murderer who may as well be wearing a sign announcing the fact, we are happy to have worked it out. When we watch a simple TV quiz and shout out the answer, we feel good about ourselves. It isn’t the level of difficulty or ease that always brings most satisfaction.
It seems to me that the reason is we enjoy solving mysteries and puzzles however simple and obvious they are. It’s as if we were created to work things out. Often in our day to day lives things can be mundane and repetitive. Jobs can have an expected pattern. Routine can become dull. We lack challenge. For me in a limited state, lying in bed most days that can be even more so. I find there is no challenge or fun to be had in watching TV or steaming media. Watching movies and TV series is extremely passive. I need a puzzle to work out. Something to activate my brain. But it has to be within my limitations. Often that means I just do actual jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. Sometimes I can put things together on my lap tray. At other times I can write or edit video. All these things act as a challenge, a puzzle which tests my brain and bring satisfaction.
If you are in my situation, limited in bed or a wheelchair. I am sure you find similar things to do. Whatever you do, don’t just stare at a TV. That way your brain is idle and it will not help your mood or mental health. Whenever you are able, for as long as you are able, find things to challenge your brain. You will feel better if you do something that has an element of puzzle however simple.
Getting back to my opening question, why are we so gullible? It’s because we enjoy puzzles, any puzzles however simple. We want to find amusement in different things. Advertisers and game developers know that and play on that. In one sense there is no problem with that. But don’t be fooled into believing the lie. You are not above average for answering that quiz, you are not one of the few who sees that picture, you are not super brilliant seeing that number pattern. However, you can have fun. You will benefit from stimulating your brain, by the way I do not mean your IQ will increase or you’ll stave off dementia. I know some games claim that. But you will benefit by feeling better.
1, 2, 3, 4… only 2% of people know what comes next.
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