It’s the first thing you do in the morning, even before you get out of bed. And it’s the last thing you check at night. Among the things you ask when you visit a new restaurant or hotel are: Is there WiFi? What’s the password so I can check my newsfeed?
The signs are all there: you have become a Facebook addict. And whether you admit it or not, it has affected how you live your life. You prefer to check your newsfeed instead of having meaningful conversations with family and friends. Your productivity at work is compromised.
We’ve written this to help you understand what triggers Facebook addiction, and what you can do to wean yourself off the habit.
- Checking your newsfeed means you want to put off your to-do’s for later
Facebook updates are laid out in an infinite scroll, which means that there’s always something to read, like, share, and comment on no matter far down you go, distracting you from accomplishing more important tasks. And before you know it, your morning is almost done. A change of mindset will help: instead of seeing Facebook as an information source or as a platform to socialise with friends, look at it as a black hole that zaps your precious time and energy.
- Oversharing about your personal life reflects loneliness and indecision
When you think about it, Facebook is just like a reality TV show that’s always on, 24/7. It’s addictive; you can’t NOT watch it, but it doesn’t add value to anyone watching it. Posting details such as what you ate for lunch, how many pull-ups you did in the gym, how stressed you are because of a difficult colleague could be a sign that you’re lonely and in need of approval. Your self-confidence may be flagging, too.
- You can’t move on from the past and there’s an unhealthy need for comparison
If you’re constantly checking out the profile of an ex (or stalking it, to put it bluntly) or your ex’s current significant other, you haven’t let go of the past. You’re still thinking of what could have been. If you’re checking out the profile of a crush, send a thoughtful message and ask them out for coffee already. Virtually lurking in the shadows is self-inflicted misery and will just get you nowhere.
- Obsessively checking Facebook notifications is a sign of wanting to please everybody
Things and activities such as food and shopping releases dopamine in our system, a chemical that triggers reward-seeking behaviour. It’s the same feeling you get when you see that red notification light on your account; you get a high from receiving all those likes and comments. Combine it with the natural human desire to be accepted and you get a Facebook junkie on the lookout for the next high.
- You have an irrational fear of missing out on something important, so you refresh your newsfeed all the time
You check out your newsfeed while out on a date or even while you’re driving (which is extremely dangerous, if you haven’t realized this by now) so you don’t miss out on exciting news. Never mind if you wreck your chances with your date or your car, for as long as you’re in the know.
Now that you know the reasons behind your Facebook addiction, what can you do about it?
- Realise that you do have a Facebook problem
The first step to working on the situation is to be honest enough to admit that you do have a Facebook addiction. This should not be a reason to feel embarrassed. Tell a friend or a colleague so they can help you with your goal to stay Facebook-free.
- Know what triggers you to log on to your account
Among the triggers discussed above, know what are relevant to you and focus on resolving them. Identify what those triggers are by answering the following questions and recording them in a journal:
- What did I do? (Did you scroll, over-share, stalk, check notifications or refresh your newsfeed?)
- When did I do it? (Is it lunch break at work? Did you just wake up? Was it right before sleeping? Were you out with friends?)
- What happened right before? (Did something stressful happen?)
- How did this make me feel? (Describe how you felt before and after the situation)
- Recognise that it is a habit, and not a conscious decision
Every time you feel the need to check your newsfeed or post trivial updates, remind yourself that it is a habit that can be corrected. It’s not a hopeless situation!
- Don’t be so hard on yourself, even it gets frustrating
So you’re having a hard time stopping yourself from logging in and checking your newsfeed. Don’t feel so bad. Getting it out of your system is a process that will take weeks or even months; it won’t happen overnight. Hating yourself will only make you decide that the behaviour is beyond your control and that it’s better to just give up. Be patient with yourself and start again.
- Think of an alternative activity to replace your Facebook habit
It’s easier to get rid of a bad habit when you replace it with a better one. We’ve heard of people who pick up a book every time they feel the urge to check their Facebook. There are others who have adopted a “No Smartphone at the Dinner Table” policy at home and even while they’re out with friends.
While Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and family from around the world and is a channel to reach out and do good (so many causes have gained awareness and support thanks to Facebook), trust us when we say that there are more exciting things to do with your time! The most important connections are the ones you have right before your very eyes; don’t limit yourself to a virtual universe.