Ending the addiction
It starts out innocently enough. A friend suggests it casually, says everyone else is doing it. "Just once, I'll never do it again," you say. Or "I won't use it that much." But then one day you realize you're hooked and will never be free again. They don't teach you about it in health class, but with more than 140 million users, it's as addictive as any gateway drug: it's Facebook.
The popular social networking site allows users to create a profile and interact with other people by sending them messages via "wall posts," uploading photos and a variety of other activities. With over 2.6 billion minutes spent worldwide on Facebook every day, the site has become a phenomenon. For years, I dismissed the rumors about a supposed "addiction," thinking myself to be above such petty obsessions. But when I started to check Facebook more than 10 times each hour and was looking at pictures of people hanging out instead of going out myself, I realized the cold, bitter truth: I am a Facebook addict, in desperate need of help.
I couldn't bear to part with my dear Facebook right away, so I began by taking baby steps to overcome my addiction. First step: check my Facebook page only five times a day. An hour later, that just seemed ridiculous. Five times a day? How was that enough to make sure my status message reflected my mood at all times?
I then tried changing my password to supercalifragilisticexxxxpialadocious, hoping that a tedious log-in would discourage me from signing in at all. But not even wasting 10 minutes to type my password could keep me away. Nothing I did could distract me from the ever-present Facebook; I needed to do something completely drastic.
Going cold turkey
Finally, I did what I knew I had to do all along: I deactivated my Facebook. I woke up that morning dreading the inevitable. I spent as much time on Facebook as I could, wistfully looking through old photos of other Blair students I didn't really know. After looking over my profile for one last time, I put it to rest. I burst into tears two minutes later. Status update: Tasnia is devastated.
Apart from moping around the house for the next few days, I suffered a multitude of withdrawal symptoms. Desperate for any dose of Facebook, I stared at the log-in screen for hours. I longed for the days when I could sign in and receive 30 notifications about people who commented on my new video posts.
Before long, I started to remember everything that was good about Facebook. I went crazy not knowing what was happening to my friends every minute. What if some of them needed a funny bumper sticker to cheer them up? What if one had posted a scandalous picture of me, and I didn't even know about it? What if that cute boy in my English class friend requested me and now hated me because I didn't accept?
With my number of concerns rising faster than the amount of applications added to Facebook, I knew I needed an alternative plan. I wanted to know what my friends were doing, so I just went over to their houses to find out. They weren't too happy about this, especially when I told them I just wanted to observe them. "I quit Facebook, you see," I explained sheepishly. This statement was met with some understanding from my friends, but when I started leaving messages in permanent marker on the living room wall — "I saw you at the mall today!!" — I sensed I was no longer welcome. Okay, maybe that didn't really happen, but there is only so long you can stare at your friends before it becomes creepy. As my friends threatened to file for restraining orders, I realized that this strategy just wasn't going to work.
Besides the updates, I desperately longed for the never-ending poke wars. The only way to replace a virtual poke war is to have a real poke war. With no friends to poke, I resorted to family members instead. At first the pokes were completely ignored. I poked a little harder, and my mother yelled at me. When I asked her to poke me back, she just looked at me as though I was crazy. It just wasn't the same.
Status update: Tasnia fell off the wagon. Facebook is just too hard to quit, and way too easy to get back into. All I had to do to reactivate my profile was to type in my password, click on a link in my e-mail and I had re-entered Facebook world.
Finally, I was back home. After missing so many precious days of Facebook time, I had a lot of catching up to do. So I put a couple of research papers aside and binged.
But this process hasn't been fruitless. I wrote a lengthy Facebook note about my experience and got 316 comments in response.
Tasnia Habib. Tasnia Habib has nothing else to do but to write for the incredible Entertainment section of Silver Chips. More »