OpEd: Face it You’re Addicted to Facebook

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With the rise of Social Networking we are increasingly become more and more connected — perhaps too much.

Twenty years ago you’d have to look for a pay phone to call a beeper and wait for a response. Fifteen years ago ushered in a new era as people started carrying around cell-phones, and later smartphones brought the power of a computer to the palm of our hands.

But social media has connected us in ways we once never imagined.

On top of that social media pyramid sits Facebook — for now. So in this article, I plan to refer mostly to Facebook rather than Twitter because, well, there’s no way I could get my point across in less than 140 characters.

Statistics show that half of the 1.18 billion Facebook users will visit the site on a daily basis. In the UK alone, there are 24 million active daily users. Estimates are that Facebook will grow 28 to 32 percent by 2015.

Where does this leave us? Well, it is an interesting quandary. There are brilliant people sitting in a room discussing ways to keep your eyes focused on their site. The more people that are glued to their mobile apps and computer screens means the more valuable advertising dollars on Facebook becomes, leading to higher profits. So it’s no wonder that these brilliant people have concocted the next socially acceptable drug of choice.

Are you hooked? If so, they have done their jobs.

In Norway, Dr. Cecilie Andrassen at the University of Bergen (UiB) Norway and his colleagues have determined that there is an actual scale by which Facebook addiction can be measured. The new measure is called BFAS, short for the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. They categorized the BFAS under six criteria:

  1. You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or planning how to use it
  2. You feel the urge to use Facebook more and more
  3. You use Facebook in order to forget about your personal problems
  4. You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success
  5. You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook
  6. You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies

Each question is scored with Very Rarely, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, or Very Often. If you scored “often” or “very often” on more than four of these six items, then you may be addicted to Facebook.

In addition to the enormous amount of time that is wasted each day and loss of productivity in the workplace, Facebook users also report some disturbing behaviors and results from their over-usage. There are a number of dark sides to consider when using Facebook. Of course, there is addition, which anyone can be susceptible to. There are also people who live their lives trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and constantly comparing their own lives to others, which can lead to other problems, like shopping for things you cannot afford.

Many people resort to using the Internet for socializing because they are anxious about dealing with people in real social situations. When people remove themselves from their real world, they can fall into deep depression, find themselves with low self-esteem, and have body image issues. Then there are the stalkers and the bullies who hide behind their computer screens and feel empowered to treat others like dirt, just because they feel badly about their own lives.

How many people on your list of “friends” do you really know? How many of them have you socialized with personally? How many of them do you trust? How many of them should you trust?

The first sign to getting over a Facebook addiction is to recognize the signs. Are you more concerned with what is going on with Facebook than what is going on in your real life? Do you wake up late and feel tired all day because you spend late nights online chatting with friends on Facebook? How often do you look at your phone to see if someone has poked you? Do you actually poke people back?

Each day there are 4.5 billion “Likes” and 350 million photos uploaded. The average time spent on Facebook per visit is 20 minutes. So the next time you want to log on to check your inbox, or see what the latest viral video fad that your friends are all sharing, think about this; isn’t there something more important you could be doing with your time? Put down your phone, or better yet, uninstall Facebook from your phone completely, and get out there and experience some real-world social networking. You can always see what’s going on in Facebook-land later!

Dave Griffiths is the Publisher of a gay men's monthly online magazine, HIM Magazine, with everything from 'Manscaping to Landscaping' on the site, which is available 24/7 at www.him-magazine.com. He is also the Art Director for SFGN and runs his own design and social media firm. Dave can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Greg Kabel

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