Flappy Bird and cannibalism: Same thing?


By Amber Cox, Staff Contributor

Who would have thought that something as simple as an awkward bird and a few unfortunately placed pipes would cause as much controversy as Flappy Bird has, inciting fervor similar to cannibalism?

Apparently, neither did Dong Nguyen – Flappy Bird’s creator. Back in February Nguyen, fearing the almost cult-like obsession that developed from users of the game, told Forbes magazine “…it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

But as our moms often told us: never say never. After nearly a month since the removal of the highly addictive game, which involved more than a few death threats and a variety of other internet fueled scandals, rumors of a return for the Flappy Bird App have begun to circulate.

And while the game’s return would probably be received with much warmth and delight by those who are not a part of the millions that already have the app – though perhaps not by those who, after the app’s departure, purchased phones with the app downloaded onto it for a few thousand dollars – I would not be quite as friendly.

Mainly because Flappy Bird, along with a plethora of other dopaminergic response producing activities, veers into territory that is just a little too disturbingly similar to cannibalism.

Let me explain.

While, historically speaking, cannibalism’s rationale has revolved around either survival or religious purposes, modern interpretations of cannibalism have begun to find the motivation behind consuming human flesh to stem from issues of addiction or mental illness.

Karen Hylen, a therapist at Summit Malibu Treatment Center, recently claimed that people who engage in cannibalism “report feelings of euphoria or get a ‘high’ by performing the action to completion” and that “the pleasure center of the brain becomes activated and large amounts of dopamine are released – similar to what happens when someone ingests a drug like cocaine.”

And so once dopamine, or the Kim Kardashian of molecules as Vaughn Bell so eloquently articulated, has been activated the newly minted cannibal’s brain becomes conditioned to repeat the “pleasurable” activity.

Experts commonly referred this sort of activity as a behavioral addiction. And other repetitive activities – such as gaming or gambling – fall into this category as well.

So, by process of categorization, Flappy Bird and cannibalism is basically the same thing. Except, Flappy Bird doesn’t have the nasty by-product of getting human brains stuck in your teeth…

Well, maybe a few. But hey, you Nguyen some and you lose some, right?