Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Facebook Addiction (revised)

Is Facebook the drug of our generation? The answer is a big embarrassing "yes" says an interesting new study by Ars Technica.
Except we youngsters can't even say that anymore, now that we're Facebooking our moms and whatnot. As a direct quote from the study explains, "Students from 10 countries... all reported distress, isolation, confusion, boredom, and a feeling of addiction when they had to go 24 hours without any form of media, including Internet."Apparently a large amount of this distress was in reaction to not having access to Facebook.

Lets take a moment to think that one over. What is it we do on Facebook? Post status updates about our fun Friday night? Whine about final exams? Boast about our vacations and semesters abroad through cleverly titled photo albums? I'm an addict and I'll be the first to admit it, but I've never felt so silly about that until just now. In fact, now that I really think about it, not once since I became Facebook active have I gone more than a few days without checking in. And now that I have my trusty iPhone in my pocket at all times (God help us all if I don't) it's certainly less sparatic than a few days. Maybe more like a few hours?

This study has really got me thinking about deleting my Facebook account and seeing how long it takes me to start "itching like a crack head," as one study participant put so eloquently. In fact, earlier this semester in my Media Communication class we had an assignment to watch one movie from beginning to end to see how long we could make it without signing on to any sort of social network. Sounds easy enough, right? Turns out I was a bit optimistic starting out this assignment. I decided to watch the cult classic “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”, thinking it would be silly enough to hold my attention and keep my idle hands from wandering to my keyboard. Thinking ahead, I made sure to keep my laptop in my bedroom far out of reach... Ten minutes later, I found myself grabbing my iPhone and opening the Facebook application, completely out of habit. Here's how is played out: What was new? Not much, the usual friend connection in my newsfeed, a comment on my latest mobile upload of a puppy at Town Lake, a new photo ablum of my old classmate Lindsey's trip to Spain. Interesting, I haven't seen her in about five years, lets see what she's up to. Spain sounds so fancy. Sorry to end the story early, I know it was a real nail-biter, but in the essence of time I'll keep it short.

Of course I had to report to class the next day and embarrassingly admit to my Facebook addiction – only to find out that it was the case with almost the entire classroom. If Facebook is a drug, then we are all addicts. But to be realistic, the Facebook addiction isn’t something to laugh off – it is gaining attention from credible institutions who are worried about the outcome of over exposure to the social networking site and what it can do to a persons personal life and general productivity. Says Elizabeth Cohen of CNN, “Although there are no statistics on "Facebook addiction" -- it isn't an actual medical diagnosis -- therapists say they're seeing more and more people… who've crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction.”

As you saw in my description, my Facebook experience that evening while I should have been watching a movie uninterrupted by social networking was less than exciting or informational (about things that actually matter, that is). Yet, when is it ever either of those things? In the study on Facebook addictions detailed in the CNN article, a woman named Cynthia admits to being a Facebook addict. She spends an unbelievable amount of time every week dedicated to Facebook. She does use it somewhat for work related needs, as she is the owner of an online retail store who likely promotes through and advertises on the site, but the rest of the time is merely recreational use - the same as what most of us use it for. How did she get on Facebook in the first place? "My daughter just got married, and I got great happiness posting her wedding pictures for all my friends to see", says Cynthia. That's how it all began, that's how it gets you. The same certainly goes for me - I created a Facebook account for the same reasons that I check in daily now, to keep in touch with my friends at home while I am away at college as well as to build connections with the countless new people I meet in Austin all the time. Facebook has so many benefits - it really has become a new way to network socially - but what happens to the old fashion kind of social networking? The kind where you call people when you miss them so that you can hear their voice? Is that being replaced by interactions of the digital age?

As seen in the CNN artivle as well as in countless others like it on the subject, you know you're a Facebook addict when you are effected by the five red flag symptoms (taken from the CNN article):
1. You lose sleep over Facebook
2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook
3. You become obsessed with old loves
*(one of my personal favorite topics, see below!)
4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook
5. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat

As promised, I must touch on my favorite negative outcome of Facebook use. Drama. Specifically in your relationship. This website is like love-eating poison to relationships, and it seems that Facebook is becoming the true sworn enemy to love birds all over the world. While its true that sometimes Facebook reunites old flames, sometimes it does so with people who are already married. It's true - according to US lawyers, "Facebook is a top cause of relationship trouble". Two-thirds of those lawyers say its a "primary source in divorce evidence".

Now that we have all the facts, let us all take a moment to reflect on our own Facebook use. Maybe some of us are addicts. Perhaps some of us use it merely recreationally - pffft, heard that one before. And for the rest who are just too cool to be on Facebook - the whole world thinks you're a snob.


  1. really, the FB/Zynga games are really a very bad bad addiction. I was couple of months back really addict of these Games. I am happy that I have completely stopped it now. I just removed these Game applications from my FB profile.

  2. According to recent research by Ofcom, 37% of adults and 60% of teens admit to being ‘highly addicted’ to their smartphones, with users checking their smartphones on average, 34 times a day. Additionally, 51% of adults and 65% of teens use their smartphones while socializing with others, and 22% and 47% respectively, confess to answering their smartphones even while on the toilet.

    So the International 'Moodoff Day’ is encouraging people around the world to avoid using smartphones for a few hours on February 26. The organization is urging adults and teenagers to spend from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. that day without using their smartphone. This events will celebrate each year on last Sunday of February.

    if you feel you could benefit from a morning without smartphones and mobile devices and want to encourage others to follow suit, go to and pledge your support. You can even post your personal experiences of smartphone addiction or upload funny images showing smartphone addicts in action at .

    Moodoff Day is aiming to raise awareness of smart phone addiction and to minimise the impact on relationships, work/life balance, reduce risk of injury in traffic and improve quality of life.