5 Weird Reasons Why You Are Addicted to Facebook (#3 Explains a Lot)

Hi. My name is Daniel. I am addicted to Facebook. Or I was for a long time anyhow. Now it isn't so bad. Anyhow... (click to read more if you'd like to break your technology addiction like I did).

addicted to facebook

5 Weird Reasons Why You Are Addicted to Facebook (#3 Explains a Lot)

Note: This article originally appeared at Lifehack.

I'm addicted to Facebook. Whew, it felt good to admit that out in the open! With that confession out of the way, I'd like to help you understand why you are addicted to Facebook. I'll even provide some easy steps that you can take to break the habit and be more productive.

The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below are five common ones that I know very well.

1. Facebook scrolling is a symptom of procrastination.

Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing. It might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn't sound as tempting now, huh?

2. Facebook over-sharing is a symptom of loneliness or indecision.

Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. You don't share such trivial details like what you ate for lunch to add value to people's lives. You're do, because you're seeking attention (and it's nice to know people approve of your decisions).

3. Facebook creeping is a symptom of misplaced affection or unhealthy self-comparisons.

Facebook makes it easy to be a creeper. There are two primary causes of creeping. Neither are pretty. Creeping the profile of your ex indicates that you live in the past. Seek professional help if you can't seem to let go. Browsing the profile of a crush is counterproductive.  It would be better to actively pursue them. Send a thoughtful message to get a conversation started. If that goes well, ask them out on a date. Creeping could also be a form of self-inflicted misery. It's hard enough to resist the human urge to compare ourselves to other people. Facebook makes this incredibly easy to do.

4. Obsessive checking of Facebook notifications is a symptom of impatience or people-pleasing.

Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things like food, sex, and drugs. Becoming a slave to your notifications can wreck your self-control in a hurry. The human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a "Like", your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you'll turn into an addict desperate for another hit.

5. Obsessive refreshing of your Facebook feed is a symptom of a fear of missing out (a.k.a. FOMO).

Facebook messes up your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your feed during a date, because you don't want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive, because a friend might have something exciting to share. Never mind that you might turn off your date or wreck your car and die. The possibilities are endless, so it's totally worth it. That was sarcasm if you didn't notice. I'm being dramatic to demonstrate how absurd this behavior is.

If you're ready to break your addiction to Facebook, follow these five steps.

1. Admit you have an addiction.

You can't fix a problem until you accept the fact that it exists. Don't beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you're addicted to Facebook (or technology in general). If it makes you feel any better, I'm a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed. Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

2. Be mindful of the triggers that provoke the habit.

Every psychological trigger I discussed here won't necessarily be relevant to you. That's okay. Focus on the ones that are. If you're not sure, here's a reflection exercise that might be helpful. It will reveal why you're having such a hard time breaking the habit. Record the following details in a diary or journal until you identify some common trends (this take at least a couple of weeks, maybe closer to a month):

  • What did I do? (scrolling, over-sharing, creeping, notification checking, or feed refreshing)
  • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
  • What was the cue or trigger? (hint: if something stressful or upsetting happened, that could be significant)
  • How did this make me feel? (use a descriptive adjective to describe your mood before and after the incident)

3. Acknowledge the fact that you are dealing with an automatic behavior.

Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is: a habitual behavior -- NOT a conscious decision. This is especially powerful when you complete step #2, because you'll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play. It's fun to psychoanalyze yourself. 🙂

4. Practice self-compassion during the process, no matter how frustrated you might get.

Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn't mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Psychologists consider procrastination a misplaced coping mechanism. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted. Worst case scenario, you decide it's hopeless, because you are just  "too lazy."  If you want to break your addiction for good, you need to be gentle with yourself.

5. Replace the habit with a positive alternative that you can track or measure in some way.

It's a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you're armed and ready with a good habit to replace it with. I applied this idea a while back by picking up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed. The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in a day! Those "few minutes of down-time" can add up to an obscene amount of waste. Choose your alternative and make sure it's measurable. To stay encouraged, you need to see evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

Love this article? Share it with your Facebook friends (how ironic).

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