Facebook Anonymous

The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Definition of addiction -Oxford Dictionary

Addiction of any kind is devastating and can have a detrimental effect on your life. We hear of drug and alcohol addiction every day and accept it as an illness, although there seems to be a new kid on the block when it comes to being addicted and that is Facebook.

Our dependency on Facebook has grown with its popularity and it is now not okay to be exempt from joining this ever growing cult. It is all very well in thinking that Facebook is a means to keep in touch with family and friends in this fast paced living with so little time, but what of the hours spent viewing, uploading, updating, stalking and generally  who’s who-ing which is eating into our lives. The absence of limit and control defines an addict, thus the unlimited number of hours we spend with our new favourite past time can be viewed as an addiction.

How many times have we logged onto our computers with the resolute determination to research and finish that assignment or to study for that important exam to then be waylaid by the compulsion to check our Facebook account for that all important notification or message. When did social networking become more important than sitting down to finish an essay in time for a deadline?

Facebook addict?

The University of Bergen in Norway conducted a study into the excessive use of Facebook by its users recently, and found that younger users were by far more addicted than older ones. Peer pressure, which is more prevalent in the youth, could be a factor why more youngsters are using Facebook excessively.

As we garner more friends and become more embroiled in what other people are doing online, be it through their posts, messages or photos, we are drawn to Facebook again and again. Sharon Vaknin, an American Technology Reporter and a How To expert focusing on mobile devices, Web services, and computing has been vocal on her views on the adverse effects of Facebook. Sharon believes “Facebook has become a place where our narcissistic dreams come true. Even the modest have turned it into an outlet where showing off is OK, stalking is accepted, and otherwise embarrassing photos are posted in exchange for momentarily pleasing Likes”.

Some descend this slippery slope very quickly and find that their Facebook existence is far more seductive than their ordinary lives and their posts online are more important than their daily activities. When once, carving a career and working hard to obtain a degree was of upmost importance, it now seems that the youth are whittling away their precious time on trying to convince their so called acquired Facebook friends that they have a worthy life.

Sharon echoes this sentiment Because bragging is so closely tied to pleasure, it’s not surprising that so many of us flock to Facebook to fulfill our crack-like addiction to telling people how great our lives are even if it takes a few extra adjectives and naughty photos to stretch that truth. Like eating, drinking, and messing around, the pleasure of showing off to friends keeps us coming back for more.”

You have to question whether this addiction is kept fuelled by computer and software giants who see this as a means to line their expensive pockets. Easy accessibility to Facebook via mobile devices is akin to carrying your local off-license in your back pocket; sooner or later you will succumb to the temptation.

Living without access to Facebook would be an atrocity few could bear. Many users have been seen to display physical symptoms if they are restricted in its usage and can be identified by the startled expression, agitated hand gestures and the constant checking of mobile devices as part of their repetitive behaviour.

Certainly, the questions this article throws up couldn’t have been timelier with the fast approaching 1 billion users’ milestone. With the sheer number of users in place maybe we need to take a closer look at the most important question and answer it truthfully – are you addicted to Facebook?

Signing off, Aminah Khan (former Facebook addict).

Are you addicted to Facebook – not sure? Take the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale and find out.

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale 

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