In the storytelling engine room...

Although I haven't done graduate work in the social sciences, I've always been fascinated to learn about the different rituals with which people were raised. I'm weird: I love hearing people's dreams--no matter how seemingly mundane--and I love hearing the bedtime stories people's parents told them (or, I suppose, didn't).

My own father had a knack for always saying goodnight right after the first or second act of his long-running bedtime series, The Raccoons. It was kind of like Watership Down meets "Dynasty"--with a bit of Hardy Boys and The Secret of Nimh thrown in. I don't remember every plot point, but I know I was always rabid (ha) for more reports from the hardscrabble world of nocturnal vermin.

In my own adventures in babysitting, the kids always responded to different characters/themes, or commanded me to improvise on a saga their parents had begun. Most of these tales involved brave animals in unlucky ecological conditions, but a few involved well-intending mosquitoes, or ostracized appliances (think The Brave Little Toaster). Patterns were obvious, but what did they mean?

When parents/proxies craft these bildungsromans, do they do so with a specific intention? This is from Lawrence Shapiro's How To Raise a Child with a High EQ (which, honestly, is always the deal breaker, right?):

In his book The Competent Child, psychologist Joseph Strayhorn, Jr. teaches parents to make up what he calls "positive modeling stories" that address their child's real-life problems or concerns. In these stories, the protagonist, who has similar traits to the child, models realistic thinking and problem solving in her thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The protagonist may or may not be externally rewarded for exhibiting particular psychological skills, but she always rewards herself for being internally motivated.

Hmm. Did I learn to see myself as a raccoon? Actually, perhaps...Other people's garbage does have a certain hold over me, but I love dogs too much. If you'd like to perform an impromptu exegesis on your own childhood parables or the ones you now spin, I'm all yours...

The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Narcissists Are More Likely to Be Compulsive Facebook Users

Updating your Facebook status throughout the day is probably a sign you need a different hobby, but according to a new study, the habit can also indicate something else. As PsyPost reports, people with Facebook addiction are also likely to be narcissists.

For their recent study published in the journal PLOS One, scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany followed the Facebook activity of 179 German students over the course of a year. They were looking for cases of so-called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) based on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, a system developed by University of Bergen researchers that measures factors like mood modification, withdrawal, and relapse in relation to Facebook use.

They wanted to find out whether FAD was linked to other mental health problems. In addition to gauging Facebook compulsion, they also surveyed subjects on their depression and anxiety levels, social support systems, physical health, narcissism, and general satisfaction with life. The results showed a strong correlation between FAD and narcissism. Rather than Facebook making its users more narcissistic, the researchers state that people with narcissistic personalities are at a greater risk of developing the social media addiction.

"Facebook use holds a particular meaning for narcissistic people," they write in the paper. "On Facebook, they can quickly initiate many superficial relationships with new Facebook-friends and get a large audience for their well-planned self-presentation. The more Facebook-friends they have, the higher is the possibility that they attain the popularity and admiration they are seeking; whereas in the offline world they might not be as popular since their interaction partners can quickly perceive their low agreeableness and exaggerated sense of self-importance."

The researchers also found a connection between Facebook addiction and higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Studies investigating Facebook Addiction Disorder have been conducted in the past, but there’s still not enough research to classify it as an official behavioral addiction. The researchers hope their work will lead to similar studies pinning down a link between FAD and mental health consequences.

[h/t PsyPost]


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