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Sweet Motivation

Using sweets as a means of motivation or reward isn't that unusual, especially for kids. But at a recent work conference, I was a bit taken aback when I saw a table covered with jars of different kinds of candy, offered as a reward (or bribe) for attendees who posted about the conference on social media.

When I later saw people with their reward I was even more surprised. They did not get just a few pieces of candy but a good-sized plastic baggie. This was on top of the many other options for sugar, between the breakfast pastries, desserts, and snacks. (To be fair, the snacks also included fresh fruit, granola bars, popcorn, pretzels, and various energy bars.)

In thinking more about why this surprised and bothered me so much, l realized a few things.

One was that I didn't see any alternative form of reward or recognition for the social media updates. As incentive for other things, people got tickets that could be redeemed for more substantial prizes, the most noteworthy being an Apple watch. But for social media, it was only sweets. It probably didn’t even occur to them that someone might not want candy.

Also, using food as a lure bothers me in general. It seems to discourage mindful eating habits, and it puts food in a position of power that I’m not comfortable with. I prefer to separate food from any possible associations with good or bad behavior – otherwise, I could imagine how people might easily justify eating more candy than they need or even want because it was a reward and it would be bad form to turn it down or throw it out.

I also can't help but notice the irony of giving these treats to people in the healthcare industry, including those who work on diabetes medication. Seems to be sending mixed messages.

Maybe I'm over thinking it, but still, I think it would have been nice to approach this a different way, and to simply have candy out for whoever wanted it with no judgment or reward attached.

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