Is There Really Such Thing As “Facebook Addiction”?
I myself have a facebook account. I check it maybe a few times a day, never in excess of 5 minutes. But, I have witnessed first hand the irresistible urge of people close to me choosing the Internet social networking site at the VERY worst time, ignoring spouses and loved ones to the point of marriages falling apart. Is it really an addiction such as gambling, drinking, drug use, smoking, etc.?
The following story is true, so I have left out real names on purpose to avoid any issues. I got somewhat close to a couple, married since I was in diapers. The husband we'll call Bill, gets up for work everyday before the sun comes up. Jill (yes, also a false name), his wife, gets up at the same time, puts on her housecoat, pours herself a cup of coffee and sits down at the kitchen table where her laptop sits. Not saying a word to her husband, as if he doesn't even exist proceeds to log on to facebook. Bill says to Jill on his way out the door, "goodbye honey, I love you" and Jill responds, "okay", as Bill could of said, "the house is on fire" or "Jill, I'm going to a strip club after work then to a U.F.O. convention", and he would have gotten the same response from his spouse. Bill comes home from work at 6:00 in the evening to find his wife still sitting at the kitchen table, still in her housecoat, hair still looks like a snarled mess, a bit of body odor lingering in the air, the cat box overflowing with droppings, microwavable food boxes all over the floor and the poor black lab is staring at him with it's eyeballs crossed from not being let outside all day. Bill (tired of this same scenario day after day) says to Jill, "honey, have you done anything beside sit there on facebook all day?" She responds, "I ate lunch, and by the way, the phone rang four or five times." Bill checks the messages. A call from the couple's 28 year old son, letting them know he was involved in a motor vehicle accident and is currently at the hospital, a call from Jill's doctor reminding her of a scheduled appointment that day at 3:00pm (that she obviously missed). Also, he listens to himself leaving two messages that he had left while trying to call Jill during his lunch break while working. Not very happy, Bill says to Jill, "I'm going to go take a shower." Jill responds, "in the closet next to the vacum!" Not knowing what she was referring to, or if she was actually even listening to him, nods his head and continues to the shower. It's now 8:30pm, Bill is sitting in the living room of their home, channel-flipping. He yells to Jill (who is literally still sitting at the kitchen table as she was at 5am that morning), in the same housecoat, needing to shower herself, "are you ever going to get off that damn thing?" She does not respond, he continues channel flipping. It's now 11:30 at night. Bill once again yells into the dining room, "I'm headed to bed!" She responds, "okay, whatever, honey." Bill makes a pb & j sandwich and heads to the bedroom. Jill, finally logs off facebook at 2:30am as no one is still online responding to her posts or comments.
This is a true story. And what is even more sad than the story is the fact that this is happening in households across the country.
So, is there an actual addiction here to social networking sites? A CNN article I read recently says,
"Although there are no statistics on "Facebook addiction" -- it isn't an actual medical diagnosis -- therapists say they're seeing more and more people who've crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction."
In the same CNN article, therapist Paula Pile, a marriage and family therapist in Greensboro, North Carolina says,
"Last Friday, I had three clients in my office with Facebook problems, it's turned into a compulsion -- a compulsion to dissociate from your real world and go live in the Facebook world."
"She says problems arise when users ignore family and work obligations because they find the Facebook world a more enjoyable place to spend time than the real world."
A Huffington Post story about teen facebook addictions says,
Facebook Shouldn't Become a Surrogate For Real Friendships and Activities. Everyone needs face time with other people, not just screen time. Physical presence with others promotes deeper connection, and all people need to be touched, hugged and attended to. Therefore, just as you likely have rules about TV time and phone time, you also need a rule about Internet time.
After reading these articles, I had to evaluate myself. Before I went to sleep, I thought back threw my entire day (I had to do this several times). I woke up and sat on the couch, kissed my Wife good morning, watched the weather channel, then after a couple hours of talking with her I excused myself to use the restroom. While in the restroom with iPhone in hand, I checked my facebook app. I read posts from some family, friends, co-workers and teammates from hockey. I saw there was one message from my father. I read the quick message regarding getting his cable TV hooked-up. I logged off facebook, checked my email and returned to my living room to chat before I left for the radio station. I checked facebook in the Channel 957 studio, as there are several computers and we are encouraged to stay connected to listeners through all media. Although facebook was minimized for all the time I was working, except for one post I left, a link to the station's "listen live" page noting that I was on-air and inviting people from wherever they are to tune in. That was twice I logged into facebook. After I got off the air, I logged off facebook that I almost I forgot was open on my work computer, I put my paperwork in my laptop bag and left for home. I honestly feel I don't have much of a problem. I'm not neglecting my loved ones, my job, my personal hygiene or daily chores.
I did in fact have a close call about six months ago. While in bed, cuddling with my Wife, talking about our day, she said, "hang on" and proceeded to grab her smartphone. She logged onto facebook, after midnight and while in bed with me. Not to sound like I am the big, bad husband who rules the house with an iron fist or yelling, cause I am nothing of the such. I said, "honey, listen to me and listen very close because I will only say this once. If you ever end our conversation while in bed with me at midnight to get on facebook again, I promise you it will be the last time you will be laying next to me in bed, ever again." She DID get offended at what I had said at first. She said, "how dare you say that to me!" Being the kind, gentle and thoughtful person she is, I knew she would think this issue through very well, if I put it into a scenario she would understand. I replied, "If we were laying in bed like we are now and I sat up, grabbed my iPhone to play on facebook, ignored you to do so... how would that make you feel?" I immediately saw her face go from pissed, to sad. She said, "oh, babe, I'm so sorry. You are right. I would grab your phone from you and laugh as it smashed while it hit the wall! You're right." That was the end of that ever happening again.
Has facebook effected your relationship, love life, work, etc.? Lets discuss this.