Hi, I'm Jessica and I'm addicted to Facebook.
Self portrait of a modern sinner. Wasting freedom, talents and youth on a website.
It took listening to this podcast by Sam Harris to finally help me realize that I had fallen prey to the predator that the internet has become (And proving to me that I can effortlessly become an addict if given the right drug).
Here's a real life example: After finishing an informative article from a trustworthy site, I am confronted by a buffet of highly seductive images to click on- Giant breasts, celebrities in swimsuits, tips for how to stay thin. It happens more frequently than I would like to admit that I find myself suddenly awoken by a pain in my neck or elbow from resting it on the desk. I wake up to the reality of me using my scroll wheel, eyes glazed over and absorbing material like "world's worst plastic surgery mistakes" makeup tutorials, cooking videos, unlikely friendships of animals - In the middle of my work day!
In moments when it's time to relax or I simply have some moments to spare, I am so disappointed to say that the curious, hard working person I once was cannot find ideas of what to do. The only activity that I truly desire is to have my finger on the scroll wheel with me using my precious eyes, brain, and time to look at meaningless feeds that somewhere along the line I started believing is "informative," "thought provoking," "stimulating" or even some how important for me to see.
I remember before moving out of my parent's home, I was quite disciplined. I would sit studiously in my room, into the morning hours studying, finishing homework, learning and completing personal art projects, my fun occasional distractions were adventure video games-which were challenging for my mind or doing something fun with my little brother OUTSIDE. If my former self could see that she would become a scrolling do-nothing, she would be very disgusted with that vision of the future. So today I'll come out and admit it. I'm an addict. I engage in the persistent compulsive use of a substance known to be harmful to myself. Is this how I use my gifts?
Here are the "benefits" that I'm believing are a good reason to use facebook:
1. Keeps me up on current events.
2. Keeps me connected with people from my past.
3. Gives me exposure to new ideas, feeds my need for input.
1. While facebook does keep me up on current events, it does so with a bias of what it thinks will engage me so much that it will keep me on facebook even longer. The guiding principle of the site is that it will increase my "time on site" an industry term I've just learned. How is that trustworthy? It's not.
2. It does keep me connected with people from my past, true. Are these connections what I'd like them to be? Not really. I'd rather be emailing them or connected by whatsapp so I can call or send a message occassionally. I don't really even like when someone sends me a facebook message. I typically don't even write back for a few days. I think it's a poor excuse for connecting with someone. I reunited with my now husband through facebook some years ago after many years apart. But I could have also done this through email.
3. It does expose me to new ideas, but I think I get better exposure on pinterest or my favorite blogs or simply talking to people. My true self prefers to sit in a cafe and talk to someone, to visit the museum, gallery openings, the forest. These are true places where the mind can be expanded.
Conclusion: I don't want to know how much time I spend on facebook and click bait. Whatever it is, it's too much and I always regret it. What do we want the internet to be for us? It should serve us, not exploit and enable us to waste our valuable time.