Today I have an awesome post from Michael Schoeff about a very real subject. Enjoy, and be sure to check out Michael’s blog.

Facebook is a great way to connect with people and it can be a rich medium of information.

Yes, it can be, but most of the time it isn’t. That’s because most people use it for social gratification in the same way that masturbation is used for sexual gratification.

Take a close look at how people generally use Facebook and you will see for yourself.

Each time something interesting happens (like when someone likes or comments on your post), your brain releases dopamine, the hormone responsible for the reward system of your brain.

You post something on Facebook. Dopamine is released.

You get a like. Dopamine again.

You stumble upon an interesting page and browse 50 pictures. Hello, dopamine!

This is how 40 minutes go by without you even realizing it.

And this is not just something that rarely happens, especially in the case of Facebook addicts.

Signs of Facebook Addiction

The following behaviors are common indicators that using Facebook affects your life in a negative way:

  • Oversharing. You’re always posting on your wall and your aim is to gather as many likes and comments as possible. You check-in way too often and you’re too open with your daily activities. Most people don’t really care what you ate for lunch. Also, ask yourself this question: “What would a recruiter think if he were to see my posts?”. If you think that your posts would affect your career, then it’s obvious that you should be more reserved with your social media activity.
  • Obsessively checking your updates. You’re always online to see what’s new, you check your profile before and after bathing and you evaluate your social life according to the number of likes, shares or “friends”.
  • Obsessive attachment to your Facebook persona. You’ve created an online alter-ego that you fuel with pictures that show how cool you are. You might even be changing your profile picture often just to gather more likes.
  • Neglecting your real life. You’re late for meetings, avoid various life events or miss deadlines.
  • Randomly and aimlessly navigating (web-surfing). You go from click to click and scroll to scroll to see what people, many whom you’ve hardly even spoken with, want to project with their profile. By the way, you’d be naive to think that someone that’s always apparently happy in their pictures has a perfectly happy life.

You might know someone that exhibits some or all these behaviors. While it’s important that you point out unhealthy habits to your close ones, it is them that ultimately need to make the choice to be rid of this time-consuming addiction.

You may be reading this article because of curiosity or you yourself might be struggling with Facebook addiction. Obviously, since you’re (still) reading this article, you took the first steps to declutter your life and make room for other more productive activities.

Nevertheless, if you’re still in doubt regarding the utility, frequency or purpose of your “relationship” with Facebook, maybe these questions will make things clearer:

  1. Do you spend time thinking of Facebook itself or the fact that you want to use Facebook?
  2. Do you use Facebook to distract yourself from the real problems that you have in your life?
  3. Do you feel the need to use Facebook more and more?
  4. How much would it bother you if someone were to completely restrict your access to Facebook?
  5. Did you ever use Facebook to such an extent that it affected your work/studies?

Now, take a minute and reflect on your usage of Facebook and the impact that it has on your life.

And be honest with yourself. Truly realizing that you have a problem is the first step in overcoming it.

Try using RescueTime for a week and see exactly how much time you’re actually spending on Facebook. If you’re within “normal” limits (the limit depends on the purpose you’re using Facebook), then you needn’t worry.

If you find yourself spending long hours browsing Facebook, then now is the time to take action:

  • Deactivate as many notifications as possible. This will give you more control over the information that you’re receiving.
  • Uninstall the application on your devices. Definitely one of the most useful things to do. You can keep Facebook Messenger if you use it often to communicate with your friends.
  • Block or limit your use. Software like Stayfocused or BlockSite will help you limit or completely block Facebook from your life.
  • Find a girlfriend/boyfriend. No, seriously, it might sound funny, but the fact that you have a significant other to focus on means that you’ll be needing less attention from other people.

You can always try replacing the time that you spend on Facebook with another recreational activity that actually brings you benefits. Try a new sport or a new hobby that will bring you inner happiness. You could also be learning a new skill that will bring you admiration beyond meaningless likes or comments.

Use Facebook Inline With Your Goals

While meaningless sharing of content is detrimental to your goals, the Facebook news feed can also be a source of useful info, depending on what pages you choose to follow. It might take a long time to unfollow so many people or pages, the time will be well worth it.

You can also get to know influential people that share the same hobby or profession with you.

If you have a website or a Facebook page, the time spent with the aim of promoting it is necessary for success.

You can find all sorts of learning opportunities and events: internships, conferences, informal gatherings. You never know what life brings you and Facebook can help you connect with the world around you.

Facebook is a great source for finding potential clients, depending on your activity.

And, last but not least, maintain privacy and share as little as possible about your own social life. It’s the same principle as when you quit smoking with no-nicotine cigarettes. The “pleasure” that is released when you get all that virtual attention can be comparable to the act of masturbation, which can also cause addiction. Once you get out of the habit of sharing your life on social media in exchange for likes and “recognition”, you will see just how meaningless and unproductive this act truly is, in a comparable way to an ex-smoker’s perception of smoking cigarettes.

About the Author:
Michael Schoeff is an entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in pet product design and business development. His struggle to have a successful business has lead him to adopt lots of healthy habits and drop many unhealthy ones.