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Confessions of a Facebook addict
The struggles of a tech-head after self-diagnosing himself with Facebook Addiction Disorder
Hi. My name is Ian and I’m a Facebook addict.
I look at Facebook, say, 100 times a day. Whenever I’m online, its telltale blue banner winks at me from the back reaches of my desktop. Like a pimp or a drug dealer on a street corner, it woos and dares me to take another look.
My addiction is the only reason I don’t have an iPhone. I’m scared of becoming buried in my Facebook page whilst in pubs or cafes, oblivious to the real world.
My addiction all began two years ago –- I’m a late bloomer on anyone’s count.
I had previously resisted for all the regular reasons. I preferred human interaction rather than sideways glances at whatever aspects –- real or imagined -– people choose to reveal on their Facebook pages. I didn’t want to give my intimately personal details to a corporation. But mainly because I saw it as a waste of bloody time.
My then girlfriend at the time was bewildered that I wasn’t on Facebook. “What’s the point?” I'd ask. “What’s anyone ever got out of Facebook?”
“It lets me stay in contact with my friends overseas,” she said.
So I started using it -- poking old friends. At first it was casual. Then on a more regular basis, and within no time at all had 100-plus friends.
But I’ve lost a few friends, too. The ex who got me hooked de-friended me soon after our relationship fell to pieces.
Then there was a large girl who went to Thailand for head-to-toe plastic surgery and came back looking like a supermodel. She defreinded me after I wrote a message calling her a Transformer.
Last month an exchange with a good friend got out of hand. In a mad orgy of de-friending, I wiped him off my Facebook planet.
When I bumped into him I realized that amongst the now hundreds of Facebook ‘friends’ who wouldn’t recognize me if they walked past me in the street, he was a real friend and I was damned if I was going to let Mark Zuckerberg come between us.
But in the depths of my addiction, I couldn’t decipher reality from illusion.
So, after much contemplation, I am now taking steps to free myself of the little blue monster. It started with a visit to a Facebook page called Facebook Addicts Anonymous (FAA), a 12-step program based on Narcotics Anonymous. But after realizing I had been duped again, I ticked ‘dislike’ and got back to business.
Then I posted a note on my own page saying I was getting married in Tahiti -- just to see if anyone cared enough to comment. No one did, which left me feeling a bit unpopular.
My research finally brought me to Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) – the most common of all Internet Addiction Disorders (IAD) and a distance cousin of MAD (Mac Addiction Disorder MAD).
I learned I was not alone; that there were millions of people out there -- people just like you and me -- who had taken the first brave step by admitting they had a problem.
After another brief visit to my Facebook page, I then investigated a gamut of online tools and apps that claim to help break the cycle of FAD: time tracking apps, distraction blocking apps and productivity apps, as well as a great little website called Quitfacebookday.
Citing shifting privacy settings shifts of Facebook members, Quitfacebookday promised to slay the dragon on May 31 last year -- its self-declared Facebook D-DAY.
How’d it go? Not so good. About 25,000 people quit the site, while the remaining half a billion members didn’t flinch.
I hate to admit it, but I’m still one in a half billion. Try as I might, my quitting attempts thus far have been a failure.
There’s always a party on I want to attend. Somebody I have to contact. And check what everyone’s up to.
So I'm learning to live with my addiction. Like any new or emerging technology, I have to learn how to control it, rather than it control me. Take the good, leave the bad and get on with life.
It’s only a matter of time until something bigger, more entertaining and with added functionality comes along and temps an entirely new genre of psychosomatic rewards. Sadly, it’ll probably change behavior.
And, after all, who wants to be a slave to software, or to anything at all?