My name is Chris, and I’m addicted to Facebook. It’s been eight days since my last login.
Until this time last year, I was just a recreational user: an update here, a photo tag there. I didn’t have the app on my phone and all my basic info was entered ironically. Facebook was a minor part of my life. And I was happy.
But then I began working on a master’s degree in journalism, and started down the slippery slope towards abuse.
Things got progressively worse after enrolling at Newhouse–everyone there, it seemed, was using Facebook. “I can’t be the only one not doing it,” I told myself. So I downloaded the smart phone app and opted for “push notifications.” I started creating my own photo albums. I upgraded to Timeline. I downloaded Spotify. Before I knew it I had branched out and was using Twitter, Instagram and even Google+. I checked my Klout score daily to analyze my influence. Facebook, it seems, was my gateway network.
By spring of this year, I was out of control. I was using daily. It didn’t matter where I was–restaurants, concerts, classes, even my sister’s wedding. I would make excuses to sneak away and update my status or check my notifications. I took photos from my Droid and uploaded them with snarky comments, desperate for the rush of a little red (1) in my status bar. I was in deep, but couldn’t even see it. “I can quit any time,” I told myself. “It’s really no big deal.”
Then, about a month ago, I hit rock bottom. I had just made Facebook the homepage on my browser, which led to a particularly reckless bender. I was updating statuses, posting photos and “liking” things willy nilly. I went out that night and did so much Facebooking that I killed the battery on my phone. I started asking friends for a charger, and soon was begging strangers to spare just a little juice, but it was hopeless. My phone lay dead in my pocket for nearly twelve hours. I had overposted.
The next morning I woke up and couldn’t even remember all the statuses I commented on the night before. I decided it was time to get clean. It would be easy, I thought. I’ll go cold turkey–delete my account. So on Sunday, August 19, I did exactly that. Or, at least, I tried.
After some searching, I found a link to deactivate my account. I clicked it and was sent to a page begging me not to go. My dealer (I’ll call him MZ) knows his product is highly addictive and wanted to remind me how good it is. The “please don’t go” page showed pictures of five friends who are also regular users. “These people will miss you,” it read. “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” I was sure.
Finally, after entering my password and a Captcha code, I was out. Done. But MZ wasn’t giving up so easily. Moments later, I received an email from his thugs:
They told me if I ever want to come back, they’ll be waiting to hook me up again. And their door is always open.
Try as I might, the temptation to relapse is never more than a few keystrokes away. But, for now, I’m staying strong. And I feel pretty good. I haven’t completely kicked my Twitter habit, but I’ve cut down to a few tweets a week, which I think is a good start.
I hope my story can serve as a message to all the kids out there: If you’re not careful you’ll end up Booking and driving, and alienating your friends with endless requests to play Mafia Wars. Let my example be a warning to use social media responsibly. Don’t post whiny relationship problems. Don’t upload photos of your cat doing cute things. And remember, when it comes to Farmville, just say no.