If taken literally, a recent article by Renee DeGross Valdes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, ("Facebook: If Enough Is Not Enough", June 7th), pegs just about everyone who logs on to the social media site as - an addict. This is not good.
Nor is it accurate.
Valdes lists the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery as a source. I feel that this was a mistake. And here's why. They have a list of eight Signs of addiction. I will quote the three that strike me as the most inane and subjective. OK, here goes:
*Online longer than originally intended
*Lies to family members, therapist or others to conceal use
First of all, most people love their connection to others on Facebook. I will include myself here. We love what we have put up on our Wall. It's a real piece of us, though something can always be added or deleted. It's a given that we are going to be online longer than originally intended. I may make a mental note and think I'm going to spend fifteen minutes online at this particular time. It surely runs into thirty minutes. Am I showing signs of addiction? Please stop.
Now, the same thing happens after ten hours at work including the commute. I'm going to post some articles, chat with some friends, share some music. That turns into sixty minutes. I had thought I intended to be online for thirty minutes. So, each day my face is looking at a computer screen while on Facebook I would say an hour and a half in total. Again, am I showing signs of addiction? Of course not. I'm an adult and can choose how much or little time I spend on a particular web site.
Second of all, if you enjoy something, the time you spend doing it will increase. Especially, the better you get at it. That hour and a half Facebook time I mentioned earlier was not always the case. Used to be much less when I did not have as many Facebook friends and I was a novice at many of the applications. I believe most adults know when their time at something is increasing to a level that is interferring with other things. I also believe we sometimes get lazy and hone in on a routine. Doesn't makes us addicts. Just means we're human.
Everything spins in cycles. There are times in your life when you have too many friends in real life and online. There are times in your life when you have too few friends in real life and online. The greatest challenge in life is striking a balance. Interestingly, Facebook can give you that balance. You can always find new applications to try out. And you always wind up hearing from folks you haven't seen or heard in decades. Add to this, you often hear from a co-worker that you never seem to have enough time to get to know better because of course you're both so busy at work. Facebook is simply a win-win.
Third of all, if you're having to lie to your family or therapist or others about your Facebook useage, you have issues that need to be addressed that have nothing to do with a voluntary social media site like Facebook. We hear of marriages breaking up because of Facebook. Give me a big fat break, would you please? You're probably on Facebook for forever and a day because you don't want to be married to whatever lug is in the house! Don't blame it on Facebook.
This goes straight to the heart of the problem. Personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is almost something that belongs to a generation before us. Do we even know what it is? Do we want it? Sometimes, I wonder. These days, it's much easier to call virtually every human move on this Earth - every choice we make - as also being a disease or a disorder or an alleged addiction. Properly love something? Well, someone on the outside who doesn't even know you may say you're addicted. Properly hate something? Well, someone on the outside who doesn't even know you may conclude that you have a rage disorder.
And around and around we go until all personal responsibility and balance is lost. It seems anytime something becomes successful, the mainstream media is there to try and show it is somehow hurting either a small segment of the population, or perhaps all of us. Facebook is proud to list over 200 million active users. Most of us have at least 120 friends. Most of us log on more than once a day. It's a daily routine, and like with everything else in life, it ebbs and flows.
It's time to lose this language of addiction and disorder that has become so prevalent in our culture. The subjectivity of it is actually harmful. If we start believing all the experts, perhaps we will conclude that we are nuts.
That's not going to be good for anybody.
Tony Zizza is a free-lance writer who lives in Hermitage. He writes frequently about popular culture. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.