Are you addicted to Facebook?


To Facebook, that is?  I mean, everyone’s doing it.  Doesn’t that make it completely acceptable in your mind? Not able to sleep because you just HAVE to see what’s going on with old and new friends?  Sneaking to Facebook at work knowing it will jeopardize your job and then spending the whole evening “liking” everyone’s postings and new profile pictures, whether you REALLY like them or not?  We all do it, but for some of us Facebook has become a form of bondage, holding us prisoner all day, every day.  “I’m not that bad, you tell yourself.  I’m not as bad as my friend Michelle, who has stopped going out with friends because she can’t separate herself from Facebook even for an hour.”  Welcome to denial.

The true dictionary definition of addiction is an overwhelming desire to take substances or engage in pass times that will result in negative and harmful behaviors and activities.  

There is actually now a recognized addiction disorder called FAD, or Facebook Addiction Disorder. It’s a term that was recently introduced by psychologists to diagnose those people who are addicted to Facebook and whose lives are really effected by their uncontrolled activities on Facebook. According to US psychologists the number of patients suffering from FAD are increasing all the time.  There are no official statistics available regarding those who have been diagnosed as having been treated for FAD, but based on the large number of universities and companies blocking access to Facebook, it would indicate that there are large numbers of folks who have an uncontrolled dependence.

You know because you’ve seen it in your workplace.  If it isn’t you, than it’s your neighbor in the next office or someone in the next cubicle.  They are so focused, so unable to stop themselves that if you compared their FB addiction to a prescription pill or street drug addiction, some form of intervention and rehabilitation would definitely have to follow suit.  Companies are forced to limit their employee’s access to Facebook because some of us would be unable to perform other tasks if we had carte blanche access to online social networking sites.  Certain personalities just take on a destructive bent when given too much access.

With the lack of awareness and dedicated treatment and diagnosis for this addiction, abstinence may be totally useless because there are very positive benefits in today’s world for users of social networking.  Because of how prevalent Facebook has become, everyone knows at least several people who use Facebook.  The amount of time users engage in Facebook activities, like updating statuses, posting photos, commenting and ‘liking’ posts, posting photos, commenting and ‘liking’ posts has also been increasing with smartphones and 3G/Wi-Fi networks becoming commonplace in recent years.  However, when Facebook activities start interfering with your everyday life and become detrimental to your daily functioning at work or in school, you might have a problem.  Here are some telltale signs of Facebook addiction you should take note of.

Do we voluntarily share our deepest secrets about our intimate lives on Facebook? It has perhaps a lot to do with the gratification of being acknowledged or approved by our peers. Such social affirmations by our friends in our network is a major draw of social networking sites.

Facebook Addiction
Sharing itself isn’t wrong, and it’s a very joyful and human desire.  But the idea of over-sharing, of saying too much and then regretting what we said, well, that’s humiliating. When we’re addicted to something, we’ll do anything just to get a satisfying dose of real participation in the activity. We may just become unable to judge what’s appropriate to share, allowing our desire to be heard to override our privacy concerns.

Do you leave your Facebook open in the background, switching between work and assignments to the page every few minutes? Even when you are outside enjoying a drink with a friend, you log in to the Facebook app on your smartphone during a lull in the activity and are now not engaged in or with what’s going on around you. Do you find it impossible to be fully engaged in what’s going on around you?

Have you ever spent more than fifteen minutes of your time thinking about what you ought to type for your status update? After you’ve decided on what you should update and posted it, do you eagerly anticipate how others will respond to it?  To some extent, we are all concerned over how we project ourselves to the rest of the world, even when it comes to our online presence.

Some of us though, may have been spending too much time managing a friend’s impression of them. It gets out of hand when you’re always trying to think of something cool, humorous, entertaining, post just to show how awesome a guy or gal you are. After which, you get restless while you wait for others to comment or ‘like’ what you’ve posted and so you just keep checking and re-checking your Facebook to see if there’re any new notifications.

Whether it’s a status update, check-in, posting of friend’s photos, don’t their posts tend to be on very mundane matters, much like how someone reports to another what he or she is doing at any given moment? They report to you their daily routines, broadcast check-ins to uninteresting places like the street they live in, upload self-portraits in what feels like a reminder to others that they exist.  If you are one of these people, I think it’s good to ask yourself the reason behind such ‘reporting’. To me, it seems to be a sign of obsession, as if you need to post something, no matter how ordinary or unimaginative, in order to relieve your anxiety of not doing so.

The issue gets worse when you actually sacrifice your sleep to use Facebook. It’s as if the amount of waking hours you have aren’t enough for you to satisfy your Facebook cravings. Lack of sleep will undoubtedly affect your performance in school or work the next day, which is when Facebook becomes an addiction problem.

As you get used to communicating on Facebook it may become apparent that you get more comfortable socializing online than offline. You become over-reliant on Facebook to fulfill your social needs and may start sacrificing the time spent on real life meetings for coffee or lunch with your friends.

What’s missing is the face-to-face communication as in the body language, gestures, voice tones…it’s not surprising that text messages often get misinterpreted, resulting in misunderstandings. In the long run, your social life suffers because your communication is limited to Facebook and not with a real-life friend.

Looking back at the signs and symptoms of Facebook addiction, I realize that none of us are immune to it. So how one can overcome Facebook addiction?  Based on the success of 12 step programs, admitting you have a problem, setting aside a fixed time to check your Facebook, and turning off notifications would all be helpful.  If you choose to get help from counseling it could be more beneficial because you will be dealing with the root of the addiction problem by finding out why you are depending on Facebook so much. Good luck!

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