Fighting the Facebook addiction

WITH more than 500 million users worldwide, Facebook has more members than most countries have people.

People across almost every demographic use it to keep up with friends, reunite with old flames, long-lost family members and mates, to plan, promote and co-ordinate events, parties and even holidays or just to sticky beak.

You can chat to friends who happen to be online, send messages to those that aren’t, upload photos, check out photos and videos, post funny comments and use your status updates to keep people informed on anything from the inane to the profound.

FB has been used to co-ordinate revolutions against dictatorships (see story left) and raise awareness and funds for countless causes.

So why do some people hate FB so much?

Some, such as ryankett from, said it was overuse and addiction that bred his contempt.

“You know that you can’t delete the bleeding thing because you would subsequently have 411 friends wondering why you have decided to cut them out of your life, or you have three people that live 5000 miles away that would cost you $1 a minute to phone.”

Ryankett goes on to outline one of the most serious problem with the web tool.

“Facebook is pretty much a self-inflicted privacy eradicator,” he writes.

“Signing up on that little registration page so that you can see pictures of your distant relatives new baby seems innocent enough; how many of you realise that Facebook then owns every single piece of information that you ever upload/write on their site? I may as well put an advert on craigslist/gumtree giving people my address, leaving my door unlocked, and telling them when I will be on holiday.”

Indeed, people who do not lock down their privacy settings are open slather for “cyber-stalking”.

While some problems are amusing, eg: the concept of poking a friend (um, why?) or the competition to be someone’s “top friend” or the stream of virtual gifts, drinks and game requests, a recent US study indicated that there may indeed be a mental condition sparked by the site - "facebook depression".

This may indeed sound ludicrous to many, but to a person with few friends, a none too exciting life and a predisposition to depression, Facebook can be crushing as it rubs other people’s happiness in their faces.

I’ve seen friends drop their profiles after their comments were taken out of context professionally. Others have dropped it because they were sick of their own addiction to their friends’ dribble and others quite over privacy concerns. But they have all come back after a break, deciding that the positives outweighed the negatives.

Facebook is banned in China, Vietnam, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Syria but clearly people are finding ways around the bans.

The distribution of child pornography through FB sparked a rethink of some FB monitoring policies in recent years but the threat remains.

The site’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, has had a blockbuster movie made about him and the legal battles which ensued after FB went viral. It was a movie he endorsed even though it painted him as being less than scrupulous in his dealings with former partners.

I believe FB will continue to grow exponentially because it is primarily a slick and simple communication tool but I also believe that life is always better when you are actually living it and not on FB.

I always find that I’m having the best times when I’m too busy for FB, but it’s always good for debriefing..

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