Shelter from the Storm

If the first step in overcoming an addiction is acceptance, I’m already at step two. Yes, I’ll admit, I’ve experienced slight Facebook addiction.

Be honest with yourself and chances are very good that you too, tiny dancer, have also developed some form of Facebook addiction. If not, you’re a refreshing rarity amongst us common scullions of the social network.

I tried to delete my account. I logged off eternally (or so I thought) and eradicated it from my life altogether (for a few months). This lasted a summer before I went running back like a spineless junkie. Truth is, as much as I resented giving in to Facebook’s potency, I couldn’t deny its social wingspan. I missed being connected with my cousins and family overseas; missed people from where I grew up hours away.

I also disliked not knowing about photos of me that were popping up after parties or events I attended.

So I reactivated my account, and here I am. Back where I started, slightly disgusted with myself, and not surprised at all. I am, however, slightly more socially greased on a daily basis. Score another for technology.

What I’ve learned is this: like virtually everything else in this life, nothing (except murder and bear-baiting) is bad in moderation.

Strangely enough, some people still believe that it’s impossible to be addicted to Facebook, and some even deny that the Internet can leave negative marks on our lives. These people are wrong. The research of numerous psychologists disagrees, as a group at Stony Brook University first found a few years back. More recently, psychologists at the University of Leeds in England linked cases of depression with excessive Facebook usage, citing the website as a “major” cause in cases of depression amongst adolescents and young people.

It makes perfect sense. In the ’70s, kids got a respite from social anxiety by going home at the end of the school day – now they’re smothered by their social worlds 24/7.

Though my usage of Facebook was becoming more than in moderation, it never reached the severity of some others around me. Not to be too judgmental, but ddddaaammmmnnnn. My own experiences and observations of people I know has lead me to believe that there are a few kinds of Facebook users; three, to be exact.

Facebook personality 1: The Casual User. This person has no amount of Facebook addiction whatsoever, and most newcomers to the site fall into this category. These people have a realistically normal amount of friends, between 200 and 800. (Note: These numbers don’t apply if you’re over 40, or if you’re extremely attractive). The Casual User almost never uses Facebook chat, can go 2-3 days without logging on, and spends no more than 10 minutes on the site on average when they do. They enjoy the social pleasantries that come with having a Facebook page, but their days would in no way be affected if they didn’t have one. Safe. Normal. No addiction.

Facebook personality 2: The Facebook Socialite. This person is beginning to show signs of Facebook addiction, although they aren’t past the point of no return. Seldom are the days that this person forgoes logging in. However, they are only logging in two times a day, and on average their total time on the site usually docks no more than 30 minutes daily. Every once in a while, this person will get lost surfing friends’ pages for an hour, but this isn’t too common. They’re sometimes prone to Facebook stalking, hardly miss the chance to wish a happy birthday, and update their status only for significant moments. This is the most common of users.

Facebook personality 3: The Junkie. By far, this is the most dangerous kind of user to be because they have an unhealthy addiction to Facebooking. If you meet this person and have a decent, mid-length conversation with them, they will most likely Facebook you within 24 hours. The Junkie may have Facebook set as their homepage. Owning an iPhone ups your chances of becoming this user, because they can’t go to a restaurant or the grocery store without updating friends on the weather and how it affects their current mood. It’s common for these users to post cell-phone photos of a billboard that made them laugh or a nice breakfast they just cooked for their significant other. They show up multiple times on news feeds every hour, and they are capable of “liking” more things in a single night than most people will in one month. This person never misses a birthday. Ever. (If this personality misses your birthday, it was an intentional statement). This user (if female) will always carry cameras to events with the intent of snapping new Facebook shots; the turnaround time between the event and the photos being uploaded is usually under 48 hours. Their pages commonly act as forums with their statuses accumulating sometimes 20+ comments. When the Junkie attempts to do homework, the formula is as follows: read a page, check Facebook. Get a drink, check Facebook, solve a math equation, send a text, check Facebook, go to the bathroom; take a study break; study break ends, check Facebook, read another page of homework. Repeat.

If you identify with this user personality, seek help. Don’t rely on an intervention from your friends because chances are high that they’re all dealing with their own battle against the Book.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “This is crazy, and I don’t fit into any of these three categories.” If this is the case, you’re either a) not a Facebook user, b) somewhere slightly in between categories, or c) in denial.

How many times do you think I checked my Facebook while I wrote this column? The world may never know.