Today, Kristen and I decided to check out the exhibits advertising lab equipment, imaging techniques, and countless other products. The first booth we went to was the exhibit for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a sector of the National Institutes of Health. I picked up a pamphlet on the science of addiction, unaware that this topic would foreshadow the hour or so ahead. While walking through the brightly colored, flashy exhibits, Kristen and I seemed to experience an addiction different than the drug addiction discussed in my brochure: collecting free neuroscience swag.
Entering the exhibits around 11:30am, we had an hour and a half before we had to be at the talk on sex differences (see today’s post by Kristen). Around 12:40, we figured we should probably head upstairs to the talk, but then we decided that we had time to walk down one more aisle. This happened several times before 12:55, when we actually pried ourselves away to learn about the importance of acknowledging sex differences in research.
I realized we were possibly addicted to collecting free booklets, bags, sticky notes, small toys, and, our favorite find, a micropipette pen. This had me wondering about our situation and addiction in general. Our adventure through the exhibits reminded me of how there is a scale of addictiveness; our temporary addiction was easily ended and forgotten, unlike an addiction to drugs. I was also interested in how the advertisement of products played a role in our short addiction. Our initial interest and following addiction was sparked by colorful, flashy booths and appealing free items. If the booths were bland and boring, we would be far less likely to seek free goodies there. More generally, I think that advertising and the media play a large and significant role in perpetuating addictions. For example, people with food addictions are not likely to overcome their eating habits if they are presented with constant reminders of fast food and other restaurants in the media. Tomorrow, I will be exposed to all of the exhibits again, and I admit that I may grab more free swag – even though I have absolutely no space for anything else in my suitcase.