Duolingo turned me into a monster

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It’s a story about many things. It’s about Duolingo – it’s obvious – it’s in the title. But it’s Really a story of doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

It’s also a story about how gamification can quickly turn a thing into a another thing. And a story about how I’m a complete idiot. That I have no idea what I’m talking about – or what I’m doing – and no one should listen to my advice on anything.

But let’s start with the Duolingo part.

At the end of October, I decided to start studying Spanish on Duolingo. It was a good decision because learning a new language is fun and rewarding. But it was also a terrible decision because I was literally coming back from visiting my family in Chile – a Spanish-speaking country – wasting one of the four or five times in my entire life when the ability to speak Spanish would have come in handy .

Duolingo language teaching app logo

Do not fight with monsters, lest you become a monster yourself.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But the truth was that I wanted to learn Spanish because, while visiting my family – who had spent 10 months working in Chile – I was inspired by how quickly they had acclimatized. Around this time, my sister-in-law went from having next to no knowledge of Spanish to handling every situation using a language she was learning on the fly. She started using Duolingo. So I thought, hmmm, maybe I could do that?

It was also a decision related to a productivity boost. Thanks to the jet lag (from the aforementioned foreign trip), I woke up very early, around 5 or 6 am. It was good ! I was doing lots of things. Not necessarily work stuff, but exercise stuff, life stuff. So I made a little deal with myself: for the first 30 minutes or so, as soon as I woke up, I was diving into Duolingo.

Duolingo, an app designed to help people learn any of 40 languages, is hugely popular. It was named Apple’s Best App of 2013 and has over 50 million users. Duolingo, with its patented green owl mascot, has penetrated popular culture to its core. Saturday Night Live even did a skit on it in 2019.

Several studies talk about its effectiveness as a learning tool. One found Duolingo to be just as effective as classroom learning. But not all studies agree. Steven Sacco, a retired language teacher, spent 300 hours learning Swedish on Duolingo but still managed to fail the final exam of an introductory college course.

None of this deterred me. At first I was going hard. I spent about an hour each morning going through the early lessons. It was incredibly addicting. I had basic knowledge of Spanish (hola, amigos!), so I was passing with near 100% accuracy, a gigantic ego boost that came with a hazy sense of accomplishment.

Those fuzzy feelings were reinforced by all the video game crap that Duolingo constantly fed me. Experience points and gems – whatever they did or what they meant – I gobbled them up like a deranged turkey. Duolingo was a machine designed to make me feel superficially productive. Yes Master. In truth. Give me that serotonin. Let me suck on this strange green owl’s pacifier. I will engorge myself with its hollow and forbidden pleasures. I will drink it neat.

diamond dogs


If you look long into the abyss, the abyss looks back at you.


Perhaps the weirdest thing about my Duolingo obsession: while I was hoarding the gems at 6 a.m., I had a human woman, sleeping in my room, who wasn’t just teaching languages ​​like his full-time job., but speaks spanish. Fluently.

Instead of asking this grown, real woman who lives in my house to help me learn Spanish, I sat hunched over my phone, with the posture of an anxious chimpanzee, and acquired gems and experience points – or XP – at a frightening rate.

Did it help me learn Spanish? It’s hard to say. Eventually, learning Spanish ceased to be the goal. I remember one of my friends, whom I was seeing for the first time since my return from Chile, tried to speak Spanish to me.

She too had learned Spanish. I completely froze. This woman did not speak the Duolingo language. She spoke the language of the real world in real words, and I was woefully ill-equipped to respond.

But that mattered little. I was hardly ashamed of my incompetence. By then, I had become a gaunt, hollowed-out XP junkie sustained only by the endless accumulation of pinball scores in Duolingo. The Spaniard was out. Winning was all that mattered.

I was particularly fascinated by Duolingo’s league system.

Duolingo allows its users to compete in a series of leagues, similar to those you might find in video games like Overwatch or DOTA. You start in “Bronze”. But if you rack up enough XP, you can get promoted to higher and more competitive leagues. There are 10 in total, all of which seem to be named Pokemon games: Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Pearl and so on.

The big daddy league is the diamond league. It’s where the big boys play, but even getting to that point is tough. These leagues are difficult and some participants clearly have other things to do than toil in the Duolingo XP mines. I discovered weird little techniques, just to be able to compete. I would quickly run through the lessons, earn a double 15 minute XP boost, then max out that time by running through the easy “history” lessons for 80XP per pop.

If that sounds like gibberish to you, congratulations on being an actualized human being. I, on the other hand, got off on erasing innocent men, women, and children from the Duolingo leaderboards. I have become the most toxic bastard in the world. If Duolingo sent me a message saying I was knocked out of my top spot, I would come back as a despised idiot and go nuclear on anyone who dared challenge my Duolingo supremacy. I won’t leave until the entire Sapphire League is burnt to ashes.

lift the curse

But then one day…I just quit.

I had a good reason. It was around Christmas. My Scottish family, who I hadn’t seen in over four years thanks to COVID, flew to Sydney, Australia to visit me over the holidays. We had planned so much that I barely had time to check my phone.

That’s when Duolingo got a little… weird.

Like a rejected lover, Duolingo began messaging me incessantly, via a series of increasingly aggressive notifications begging for my return. I watched in horror as a mobile phone app went through the stages of grief in its attempt to get me back. Like a partner in need calling you 10 minutes after texting, Duolingo started texting me emails when I did not respond to notifications. It was a brutal onslaught that only served to underscore how twisted my Duolingo obsession once was.

After basically ghosting Duolingo for about three weeks, I received a hilariously somber note: “These reminders don’t seem to be working. We’ll stop sending them for the moment.”

And, sure enough, the next day, Duolingo sent me another notification and an email.

I never came back. The curse has been lifted. The seduction techniques that Duolingo once used to good effect – XP, gems, leagues – no longer have a hold on me. My series is dead. I’m free.


“Earn extra 5XP on every lesson until 8pm. How much can you earn?”

Video screenshot by CNET

For now, my days of being gaslit by a weird green digital owl are long gone.

All that remains: the decaying tendrils of the methods used to trap me, my inner monologue trying to make sense of it all. As someone insensitive to the effects of gamification, I’m surprised it worked so effectively. If it was Call of Duty or FIFA, the endless spiral of rising numbers would have had little effect on me. But on Duolingo, an app designed to teach me something tangentially related to self-improvement, the lure was impossible to resist.

Lesson learned. Or, in this case, a kind of lesson learned.

Has my Spanish improved? Yes and no.

I learned a few words and tweaked some aspects of my clumsy grammar. But I suspect that if my wife came out of her home office, any second, and spoke to me in Spanish, I would freak out. I would disintegrate into a pile of clothes and dust like the Wicked Witch of the West.

But then, resurrected, like a cursed, vaulted Gollum, I’d probably launch Duolingo, completely on autopilot, and find myself sucked back into the abyss again.

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Anyone can Create a new Facebook account. if you want Create a Facebook account
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Create a new Facebook account without a phone number
naturally, How to create a Facebook account
Very simple, almost all users know, simple and not at all
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when you create it, but to the delight of some users, you can
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How to Create a New Facebook Account Without a Phone Number
It is a social and business website for some users, but when you have a
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Create a Facebook account another to
receive your orders. And some people want another Facebook account just
to hang out with friends. Let’s learn together
How to Create a Facebook Account Without a Phone Number in the next paragraph.
How to Create a New Facebook Account Without a Phone Number
necessary process Create a Facebook account
Not tied to a phone number You have an Android phone and it just needs
to be an Android phone. Then follow these steps to create an account on
your phone without the help of a laptop:

Access the Google Play Store.

Find Facebook Lite Facebook.

Then download and install the app on your phone.

Open the app and choose the language that suits you best.

Click Create New Account.

Then fill in your first and last name.

When you reach the phone number step, you will find the registration via email at the bottom of the screen.

Click to register via email.

Type your e-mail.

Then click next and wait for the activation code to be sent to your email.

Then add the activation code.

Fill in the registration information.
The second way to create a new Facebook account without a phone number
There are many ways To create a Facebook account
No need for a phone number to sign up for an account. One of the ways
is to use a number that is different from your personal number, like
using a fake number from the Internet, and you can find many
applications in the Google Play Store that provide this service, and it
is a service that creates Americans, for example, or numbers that Brits
must activate social media accounts like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram
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on any app and get a fake number with which you can easily create an
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imperfections Create a new Facebook account without a phone number
Activating a Facebook account with a fake number has disadvantages and
harms, mainly losing your account in an application that provides a
service to create fake numbers. You are from Facebook on your phone
number, in this case you cannot receive the code because you do not have
a dummy account. Or because Facebook has received many complaints
about your personal Facebook account and wants to verify the credibility
of the account holder by sending a code on your phone or on the number
you linked to the account, here in this case we are talking about fake

Configure your Facebook profile
If you are new to this social networking platform then… Create a Facebook profile It can be stressful for you. So here are some tips to help you get started with Facebook:

a Profile Photo – You should add your photo first so your friends and
acquaintances can easily identify you and send you friend requests.

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one thing and managing it is another; Understand your privacy settings
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tip – If you are using a Facebook account on a public network, never
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Are you having trouble logging into your Facebook account?
If you are unable to log in to your Facebook account, you can recover it by following these steps:

Try to recover your Facebook account
If you find that your password is invalid or missing, try resetting it.
you’re having problems with your email, username or phone number, try
logging into your account with an alternate email or phone number.

you signed up for a Facebook account via email, you’ll need to contact
your email service provider to access your Facebook account email to
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Reasons why Facebook account fails
will only see a message that your account is disabled when you try to
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Posting content that doesn’t follow Facebook’s terms.

Using a fake name.

Personify someone.

Continue to engage in behavior that isn’t allowed on Facebook and that violates our Community Guidelines.

Contact others for promotional, advertising, abusive or harassing purposes.
How to create a new Facebook account
if you want it now Create a new Facebook account Using your phone number instead of your email address, you need to follow these steps:

Go to facebook.com and click Create New Account.

Enter your telephone number and other personal information requested in the “Registration” form; Click “Login” when finished.

the verification code you received on your mobile number and click
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distance Create a Facebook account newYou
can manage your account settings and keep it private or open to the
public. For further use, just enter your email address/phone number and
password when creating your account to login your Facebook account.

How to Create a New Facebook Account on Your Computer
Here we will learn how to create a new Facebook gmail account on computer, and here are the necessary steps:

Turn on the computer and launch the browser.

Click Create New Account.

After that, a window will appear where you need to enter:

Your first and middle name.

Your gmail (which we created earlier).

Account password.

After completing these steps, you have to click on Create a Facebook account.

After that, a window will appear asking you to confirm the email as follows:

you have to do is go to your email inbox and you will find a message
from Facebook, you have two options, click on the blue confirmation
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Facebook account verification without number

After entering the code, click Confirm below.

so you did Create a new Facebook account on Gmail.
Create a Facebook account on your phone
When using your phone to create a new Facebook Gmail account, you must first Download the Facebook app from Google Play
If you are using a phone with limited specs, not enough storage space
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Open the Facebook app.

Click Create a new account and grant it to Facebook Permissions to complete account creation.

In the next window, click on the Next option to start creating a new email account on your phone.

Enter your name and tap Next, select your date of birth by month, day and year and tap Next again to go to the next step.

Select your gender and click Next.

the next step you will be asked to enter a phone number but we are
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In the Save Login Information window, you can save the information in an application Facebook So that you can access your account easily next time.

After that you will be ready Create a new Facebook account.


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