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Facebook: are you an addict?

and which category do you belong to

If you landed here from a source different from my blog, chances are you missed my previous article, I’m not forcing you to read it, but allow me to start from where I left…

As maaaaany people say… The human brain is an incredible instrument.

Inside the complex network of the brain are synapses which secrete chemicals that send emotional signals through the central nervous system. When we’re using Facebook and other social media accounts we are drinking a cocktail of emotion-controlling drugs, principally dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of pleasure and elation. This naturally occurring chemical can be released by a hug, a kiss or a word of praise. On Facebook, a like, positive emoticons, responses to a comment and a share will trigger a dopamine release in the brain. Social media marketers have to be careful to guard against obsession.

One of the principle reasons people struggle with drug addiction is because their brain is not naturally producing sufficient amounts of dopamine.

Facebook users that are not getting sufficient levels of emotional fulfilment in other areas of their life will ultimately become addicted to social networks and the internet in general. As mentioned in my previous article, social media networks fulfil a human need for self-gratification, and there are tell-tale signs you are obsessed or becoming addicted.

Furthermore, addiction has a psychological impact on users that impacts their behaviour. Thus people that become obsessed with Facebook typically exhibit the following traits when interacting with the social platform. Read on to determine if you are addicted or in danger of becoming addicted and eventually which category you might belong to 😉

Social media lurkers

Two billion people are active on Facebook a month. And by ‘active’ we mean two billion logs on to their social media account. But not everyone that visits interacts. Some users classed as ‘active’ are actually inactive and just lurk – a digital trend that can only be described as online voyeurism but harbours the traits of addiction.

Social media lurking is an actual thing. But who are these people and what drives them to trawl through profiles without interacting? When you dig deeply into the reasons people use Facebook and what social media does to the brain, the roots of human psychology are revealed.

You probably commit acts of social media lurking yourself without even realising it! Or you may do it deliberately, but without meaning any harm. Most people that engage in social media creeping are innocently investigating – but to fill an emotional void. Facebook is a coping mechanism to help us overcome emotional survival.

Facebook stalker

Other than satisfying entertainment needs, social media networks provide an outlet for interpersonal communication and for the most part is a platform for ‘self-expression’. However, the personality type and psychological status of individuals cause a fluctuation in the way we engage with social networks. In some cases, Facebook users develop into stalkers.

In the book, Digital Discourse: Language in the New Media, stalking is defined as “largely innocent voyeuristic and information getting process”. But what is it about the human psyche that drives people to browse the profiles of other users without interacting?

Psychologists suggest Facebook creeping is a symptom of misplaced affection or unhealthy comparisons of individuals in relation to other people. This can be due to low self-esteem, a desire to get more out of life or struggling to let go of the past.

Of course, stalking may simply be mere curiosity, and in the case of social media marketers, the process of collecting information about followers and their interests. A theory put forward by the Scientific American is that obsessive behaviour on social media is a condition of Attachment Theory – a feeling of lacking or hurt.

The jilted lover

Jilted lovers fall into the category of Attachment Theory. When relationships end, it is a natural curiosity to know what our exes are doing. This type of Facebook stalking can cause emotional distress by prolonging the recovery process.

It is usually the jilted lover that does the stalking. The process is an attempt to find coping mechanisms, but in most cases, the stalker creates more emotional distress for themselves. Jilted lovers inevitably find their exes liking posts and perceive this as flirting – whether it is true or not.

In this regards I would love you to have a look at one of my Buddhist teachers giving his idea of how facebook can solve “anxiety problems” 🙂

Looking for love

Another study found that people use Facebook to search for romantic partners, either directly through the platform like an alternative dating site, or to learn more about potential partners and new relationships they have met offline.

When the hopeful romantic is shy, or admiring someone from a distance, they do not interact with the object of their desires. Instead, they browse the photos and scroll through the endless content posted on your wall. In new relationships, Facebook creeping is a secret.

Driven by jealousy

A study published by researchers at the Universities of Toronto and Guelph revealed that Facebook users that have ‘relationship insecurity’ typically stalk their partner’s account. This type of lurking is a result of ‘anxious attachment’ because the individual was not given enough love and affection by their parents when they were children, usually the father.

Other researchers have cited interdependence theory as the reason for people to stalk the Facebook wall of their lovers.

The theory suggests that people in a relationship use Facebook to determine whether their needs are being met in a current relationship or whether there is a better ‘quality of alternatives.’

For example, the stalker may feel their partner is not investing enough interest in their relationship and use Facebook to track how often their lover is using it and not interacting with them. This can then result in the same feelings as the jilted lover whereby you create ideas that promote feelings of jealousy.

Conversation starter

Another type of Facebook addicted are users that look for things to talk about with their friends. This practice often centres around evaluating how other people present themselves online.

You would hope in most cases, the user is looking for inspirational conversation, but in many cases, especially teenagers, it’s to form an allegiance with other friends while attacking an unsuspecting third party. Another way of putting this is ‘bitching’.

Digital marketers fall into this type of addicted. In order for brands to engage with an audience, you need to know what the latest social conversation is online. For brands, conversation starters can leverage awareness and provides you with a platform to position yourself as an expert in your field.

Video hounds

According to Facebook IQ, 54% of users admit to watching large volumes of videos on Facebook, often back-to-back without even realising. In one respect, this is the power of video marketing. In the online space, videos have a powerful and hypnotic quality.

Videos are easy content to consume, hence their popularity. Facebook statistics reveal over 8 billion videos are viewed ever day on Facebook. Research shows that 74% of consumer buying decisions are influenced by social media and Facebook is the best platform to engage customers regarding products and services.

In contrast, viewers that watch video on YouTube actively search for content they want to see and will also be introduced to related videos that appeal to their interests. Facebook is passive whereby random videos appear in your feed yet have the power to suck people in.

Facebook has its qualities, but can also affect the psychology of users. Marketers have to be sensible in how they interact with followers, but also be consciously aware of how they are using social media. Are you interacting, researching, or just lurking?


Are you addicted to Facebook?

Other than a lack of productivity, Facebook addiction can result in conditions that are clinically certified as mental disorders. Obsessive use produces signs of depression, impatience, social anxiety, narcissism and loneliness.

The biggest warning signal of Facebook addiction is overuse. If you are spending most of your online time on Facebook and whiling away hours when you should be sleeping, you have a problem. The recommended dosage is 30-minutes a day.

While using Facebook to reconnect with old friends and digitally engage with existing friends is one of the benefits in having a Facebook account, if you find yourself trawling through profiles of ex-lovers, old school friends and people you want to flirt with, you could be harbouring signs of loneliness, jealousy or arrogance.

Facebook is designed with parallax scrolling to make it user-friendly, but the endless stream of content promotes symptoms of procrastination and curiosity.  If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through memes and debates without engaging, you are most likely addicted and simply cannot bring yourself to log out in case you miss something.

Oversharing information and constantly checking notifications is another key indicator of obsessive use. Facebook is an ante-dote for the desire of instant gratification. It triggers pleasure seeking rewards in the brain.

For example, every time you receive a like or a reply to comments or posts, a neurotransmitter is secreted in the brain. If the response is satisfying, the neurochemical release is dopamine which gives the feel-good factor. The danger here is that you can quickly become a social media addict, especially if other areas of your life are not being fulfilled on an emotional level.

Facebook is the ultimate Catch-22. Despite the obvious advantages of organising a social life offline and catching up with news from family and friends, the psychological damage and lack of productivity can threaten personal and professional situations.

When Facebook is being used for work purposes, it is the responsibility of users and managers to monitor the number of time workers are spending on social networks – both in and out of the office.

And if you are showing signs of addiction, take corrective action before it’s too late.


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