So, we already know that I can be a bit compulsive sometimes. But recently, I’ve been thinking that my addiction to social networking may be a serious symptom, if not the cause, of my obsessive-compulsive behavior.
I just finished reading The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich, which tells the story of the founding of Facebook—although, if you read the reviews, apparently it wasn’t the most accurate account... (I guess failing to speak with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a non-fiction book about Mark Zuckerberg makes you lose some credibility). Still, I was enraptured by the stories of two nerdy Harvard AEPi guys, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, who really just wanted to meet some hot Asian chicks, but ended up revolutionizing how the world socializes while making shitloads of money.
They may be Bill Gates-sized geniuses, but there are a few side effects of Facebook I’m not sure Mark, Eduardo and the other Facebook guys could have foreseen: somehow, they created the ultimate distraction and stalking mechanism and the perfect drug for compulsive people like me. Could Mark have known that the genius idea he cooked up in his Harvard dorm room would simultaneously make him a billionaire while companies everywhere lost money as employees spent hours upon hours tagging pictures instead of working?
The Facebook phenomenon first reached my computer screen during my sophomore year at UW-Madison. At first, like you, I was hesitant, but eventually I caved and caught the bug—friending people left and right, checking out the guys that would be in my classes for the semester, taking funny drunk pictures to use as my new Facebook pic. Now, about six years and a gazillion new Facebook applications later, I’m afraid that little bug I caught isn’t so little anymore.
An example: Like everyone else, I hated the new design and newsfeed when it first came out. But now, I’m not sure what I would do without it. When I’m feeling low, or uninspired by my work, I simply refresh my Facebook page (yes, I leave it open all day) to see if any new posts have been added. My favorite is when I’ve been gone for more than 10 minutes (this is a rare occurrence) and I see “show 14 new posts” Yes!!
As you can tell, this is kind of becoming a problem. And since reading Mezrich’s book (accurate or not, I couldn’t put the damn thing down), I’ve realized that maybe I need to get into some kind of twelve-step program or something to wean myself off of Facebook altogether. But then again, that seems kind of dramatic—
Before doing anything drastic like taking down my profile (like that would ever happen), I decided to do some research. Apparently, this is a real psychological condition! The RedEye posted a story this week about a treatment center in Seattle that just announced it will offer the first known rehab program in the U.S. for Internet Addiction Disorder! All you need is 45 days and $14,500 and you’ll be cured! If you think you might have IAD (or even just FAD) you can simply Google “Facebook addiction” and you’ll find tons of blog posts and articles where you can easily self-diagnose.
Despite the many reliable resources right at my fingertips, I wanted to make a list of my own to help me decide whether my life is better with or would be better without Facebook. Here goes nothing…
Things I couldn’t do without Facebook:
1) Find out who’s engaged/gawk at the size of their diamond, married/Can you believe she put her bridesmaids in that color? or pregnant/ew, I do not need a minute-to-minute update on your contractions (although cute baby pictures are encouraged).
In other words…stalk people.
2) Remember people’s birthdays. Once Facebook reminds me, now I have to decide whether you merit a gift, a card, a phone call, a ‘Happy Birthday! Hope it’s a great one!’ Wall message, or nothing at all…sad.
3) Keep track of old boyfriends and crushes/play matchmaker for friends and look up potential dates to read up on them/check out if they’re hot or not beforehand. What? You know you do it too.
4) Be “friends” with quasi-famous reality TV stars/school mascots/TV or movie characters/eating establishments.
5) Shamelessly promote myself, my articles and cute pictures from my friend’s wedding/my latest vacation/that weekend when my friend from out of town came to visit (sorry about this one guys…)
Things I could do without Facebook:
1) Get shit done—hell, I looked at some random girl from my sorority’s summer picture album just to get me through writing this sentence.
2) Get more sleep—enter boyfriend Mike: Would you stop playing on Facebook already and come to bed! Me: But so and so just put up pictures from her wedding this weekend! Can you believe she put her bridesmaids in that color?
3) Not get invited to people’s parties and events that I probably don’t want to go to. Just because we had a one hour class together freshman year, we were never really friends and haven’t spoken in six years, so I really don’t want to celebrate your birthday. (I know it sounds harsh, but you have to admit it’s true, right?)
4) Write the next great American novel. Actually, in all the time I’ve spent on Facebook, I probably could have written it twice.
5) Oh hell, who am I kidding? There is no #5. Facebook, I need you!
As far as I know there’s no special patch or gum to help wean you off Facebook, and even if I could afford the $14,500 treatment program in Seattle I’m not so sure I’d want to be cured. Now that I’ve got it, can I live without it? Hell, no.
And now, there’s Twitter too. But I’ll save that for another post.