image credit: Tomás Fano flickr
This is an article about a real product that exists, that was designed to deliver an electric shock, to YOUR BODY, to stop you from eating/sleeping/smoking/watching too many "House" reruns. I wish this was a joke, because that's how entirely awful this whole premise is, but alas, it is a Real Thing. Read on.
Once upon a time, in the early 20th Century, there was a guy named Ivan Pavlov. Ivan was a Russian doctor who, I guess, liked dogs (or at least worked with dogs). If you’ve taken any psychology class ever, you’ve probably heard of Ivan, and even if you haven’t taken any psychology class ever, you’ve probably heard someone mention Ivan.
He’s a pretty popular bearded dude. #orginalhipster
Dr. Pavlov was the first guy to coin the term “classical conditioning,” which is defined as “a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired; a response that is at first elicited by the second stimulus is eventually elicited by the first stimulus alone.”
Classical conditioning is also known as the “Pavlovian Response” — obviously named after Ivan himself, because I guess when your life’s work is figuring out why dogs are slobbering, you deserve to name the thing you discovered after yourself.
The most commonly used example of Pavlovian response is the “ring the bell, see the dog drool,” and from these initial observations was born a new way of training — pets, and also apparently, people.
After Pavlov had done his bit, two really swell fellas named Watson and Rayner thought it would be a super-fun science time to expand on Pavlov’s theory with humans! They did this by showing a baby a harmless (though possibly ugly) white rat, and then scaring the shit out aforementioned baby with a hammer, repeatedly. Until the baby was scared at just the sight of the rat.
So that was a nice thing to do, and not at all unethical.
But hey, thanks guys for giving birth to the idea of negative association used as a training tool. Who cares about what happened to that baby? Needs of the many, etc.
It’s been 114 years since Pavlov spent his days hanging out in the lab with his slobber dogs, and it’s about time to put that incredible base of knowledge to good use in some very necessary human conditioning.
Enter Pavlok, and its esteemed creator, Maneesh Sethi. Maneesh about started a smackdown on Shark Tank when he first pitched Pavlok, as the investors on the show really wanted to see, like, some science and clinical trials before they backed this product. But pay no mind, Maneesh's Indiegogo was so successful he didn’t need a stupid Shark Tank backer. And Pavlok is worth $15.9 million without those whiners.
So, what is Pavlok?
Well that is a great question, and here is the answer (right from the horse’s website’s mouth):
PAVLOK is, “THE SMART WEARABLE, THAT BREAKS BAD HABITS.
Pavlok is a behavior training device — it vibrates to reward you for good behavior and administers an electric stimulus to train away bad behavior.”
“Hundreds have quit smoking, nail biting, mindless eating, and sleeping-in by using Pavlok’s apps.”
That’s right. You too can stop eating by simply shocking yourself repeatedly.
Sleeping too late? Missing your alarm? Just can’t seem to pull your exhausted body from your bed?
You just need a tiny electric shock to set you straight.
Smoking? Eating too much? Watching too much TV?
Congratulations, Maneesh Sethi. You just used 100-year-old psychological research to punish people into not eating.
But #MotivationMonday. It works!
I mean, just look at Kara. She used Pavlok to get in the BEST SHAPE OF HER LIFE!! Even after HAVING A BABY!!@1@@!!!2
All she had to do was Paypal Maneesh Sethi $169 for the Pavlok and the wristband it fits into (FREE SHIPPING WITH CODE MOTIVATIONSHIPPING), and then be zapped repeatedly whenever she wanted to eat. Now? She’s in the best shape OF HER LIFE, YOU GUYS. And she doesn't even need (or want) snacks. Because OUCH!
Thanks Pavlok! I thought I needed that cheesecake, but I realized that what I really needed was some good 'ol electroshock therapy.
There are so, so many, many things wrong with this, I thought it was a joke.
But, I also thought Donald Trump running on the Republican ticket for President of OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY was a joke. So that just goes to show you what a good judge of reality I am.
As if life isn't already miserable enough, now we can layer on the pain, making this whole life experience a real crap sandwich. It wasn't bad enough that you felt guilty for smoking/eating/sleeping/watching TV/using too much water in a drought.
You should really feel guilt AND experience pain.
This guy — I want to call him an asshole, but I won’t because I’m trying to exercise Buddhist compassion — is literally preying on the very real emotions of inadequacy and self-loathing. If you felt like society wasn’t doing an adequate job at punishing you for every even-remotely questionable decision you might ever make, no worries, you can punish yourself too.
This is essentially a shock collar, and you are now essentially a dog.
Next up: Cesar Millan walking beside you randomly saying “TSCH,” and behavior correcting you by giving you a quick heel jab to the rib cage.
Except I wouldn’t even use a shock collar on a dog.
But apparently desperate times?
Or Capitalism. Whatever.
Kirsikka kept losing her car keys. Pavlok solved her problem! Though I’m not sure how. If something shocked me for losing my car keys, I’d just stop driving. I don’t need to go anywhere that bad. Amazon same-day delivery, people.
But, but, Krissie K quit sugar!
WHY Krissie? Sugar is SO GOOD. Unless you’re diabetic, why wouldn’t you want a cookie? What kind of cold, cruel world is this where the enjoyment of a baked good starts out with electroshock?
Ok, but what if you obsessively pull your hair out? Because Pavlok can even help folks overcome trichotillomania.
Oh, you know what else can help folks overcome trichotillomania, Maneesh? Psychiatric medications. Because it’s a literal psychiatric disorder that is frequently associated with OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression. It is not a vanity illness to be exploited by a millionaire with no regard for the human condition.
That may be taking it too far.
Perhaps Maneesh has some regard for the human condition. It’s just that his regard extends about as far as the nose of his Ferrari (purely speculation, I admit).
Even if Mr. Sethi and the rest of his board of dick-rectors weren’t making millions of dollars off your desperation, it’s still just fundamentally ridiculous.
If you find social media to be a timesuck, the Pavlok app knows when you’re on Facebook, and can jolt accordingly. For other, less traceable behaviors, you can actually just shock yourself (technology is under development, so perhaps soon Pavlok will know when you approach a cookie).
You could also just punch yourself in the face every time you reach for the TV remote. Or have your BFF follow you around and just give you a solid kick in the shin every time you light up a smoke. Enlist the help of your partner on those mornings you just can’t seem to wake up; the ice bucket challenge should do the trick.
Have these people ever read any parenting book that was written post-1985? Negative conditioning doesn’t EVEN WORK. If it did, we all would have been putting shock collars on our toddlers decades ago. (I mean, probably not, but you get my point).
To be completely fair, Pavlok does “vibrate to reward you for good behavior.” If I could work out a way to wear it in my underwear, well, that would be a different product entirely.
I’d pay $169 (FREE SHIPPING WITH CODE ORGASMSANDSNACKS) for that.