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      Volume 11 |Issue 29| July 20, 2012 |


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The Facebook Fix

Anika Hossain

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

I have grown up associating the word “addiction” to drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and coffee (when in college). Later, when I started living in the real world, I discovered one could be addicted to other exciting things like shopping, people (crushes, significant others, targets of unhealthy obsession such as one's boss etc), work (if one is very ambitious), sex and food (I'll stop here before I get carried away).

What I didn't realise, then, is that the object of addiction can become so ubiquitous in your life that you fail to notice it has become addictive. Addiction to TV is a good example of this -- you can watch for hours every day, your life can revolve around the shows you watch without you noticing something is amiss.

There are a million small things people have been addicted to, thinking of them as wants rather than needs. In modern times, the internet has become one such phenomenon. Almost every member of the current generation, who has access, is addicted to the net. Whether it is for work, for school or for their social lives--basically for anything they need to get through each day. While a lot of it is reasonable, useful even, there are some addictions within the internet that are very amusing to observe such as addiction to social networking sites, namely facebook.

Last week, someone told me I might be addicted to facebook. I dismissed this silly notion immediately thinking I have far better things to do, but then she recommended I take a test online to prove it. I did it for the heck of it and was startled by the result.

It started off well for me. “How often do you update your facebook status?” the first question asked, and I clicked on “once a month,” and then it went downhill from there.

“How often do you check your facebook?”

Umm.. if I had to be honest “a few times a day” I clicked somewhat reluctantly, but truth be told, it's probably every time I log onto my computer.

“How many facebook friends do you have?”
500-1000 (yikes! Do I really?)
“How many photos are you tagged in?”
Thousands (I never even noticed that!)

“Do you get annoyed when someone doesn't upload and tag photos to facebook after a social outing?”

Yes (very embarrassed)

“If a family member or friend isn't using facebook do you encourage them to sign up?”

No! Okay fine, yes, I asked my mom this morning
“Do you use facebook to organise events?”
All the time! (aah this is killing me)
“Do you organise your friends into groups?”
Yep (I give up)

“Are you going to post your score on facebook after you have finished taking this quiz?”

Sigh, I was going to but only because I thought my friends would find it amusing but not anymore since you asked!

The questions were relentless and by the end of it an emotionally exhausted me discovered I am 67 percent addicted to facebook. This quiz was all rubbish. I only use facebook to network, advertise and keep in touch with friends. That's it. Anyway, taking offence to my friend enjoying my chagrin, I spent the next few days obsessively on the lookout for people who are more hooked on facebook than myself. It's perverse, I know, but let's face it, its human nature.

Here is what I discovered. “I have someone on my facebook who has 90 albums and all of them are full of pictures of herself in different outfits in weird poses,” said one good friend (I'm not naming anyone) who incidentally went through each photo and has the captions memorised.

“I have a facebook friend who went on a one month honeymoon and uploaded photos and updated his status every other hour, saying where he was, what he was doing, how great a time he was having and oh my God what he was eating! Like we need to know all the details, if he was having such a good time, why was he on facebook?” says another friend who dutifully read all these posts and knows all the minute details about this memorable honeymoon.

“There is one girl on facebook, who wore the ugliest sari on her wedding day and I'm absolutely certain she married her husband for money,” says another friend, “I don't have her on my friend list, I only saw her pictures because her wedding album is viewable to everyone. No, I don't really know her, just came across her profile.”

“Some people update their status like every minute! This guy I know posts things like 'Yawning' and 'Just bought a coke,' and I'm thinking – are you kidding me?” says another friend while updating her own facebook status which read, “Chilling with girlfriends- yay for girl time!”

Those were the ones in denial. Then there were those who not only acknowledged their unhealthy addiction, they were quite worried about it.

“I wake up, and the first thing I do is check my facebook,” says one such addict, “Come to think of it, whenever I do something fun I take pictures just to upload them on facebook, I even think of captions while I'm taking the photos.”

“I got into trouble a million times at work because I'm always on facebook,” says another worrier, “I can't help it! When I'm not logged into facebook I feel like I'm missing out on something. I won't be surprised if my boss bans it in the office.”

“I change my profile picture every day, sometimes twice a day,” another friend admits. “I was so glad when I got timeline because it meant I could have two profile pictures—is that bad?”

“I use facebook on my phone too,” another afflicted user reports, “I go through my live feed all the time because I need to know what everyone's upto. I also look through everyone's photos when I have time but I never comment or like them because then they'll think I'm stalking them. You can't tell anyone!”

So you see, my alleged addiction isn't as bad as that. I don't spend every waking hour on facebook stalking random people (at least not all the time) My day to day functioning is hardly affected by facebook. I am not writing this article at two in the morning because I was on facebook all day at work today! And I most certainly was not taking an hour long break before writing this conclusion to chat on facebook while checking out the comments on my latest photos. I wasn't.

Enough about me. As I was saying earlier, this modern day addiction within the internet, like all others, while useful can hamper your lives considerably if you go overboard. Those of you who recognise and relate to the symptoms above should definitely consider cutting back on your daily dose of facebook and think of better things to do with your lives. Really.


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