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MediaNovember 4, 2018

The asshole down a rabbit hole: tales from a reformed Facebook addict

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Janice Mary has been off Facebook for a month, but it wasn’t an easy road to get there. She writes about her social media addiction.

Ten years is how long I was on Facebook. Ten years of habitual, mindless, scrolling day in, day out.

I revealed 943 status updates and 628 photos exposing to the world what I see, think and feel. At the same time, I was curating a highlight reel.

It made me oh-so lazy, not having to remember birthdays or send out invitations to events. I went full creep – stalking old friends and foes from high school. But what could be so wrong with videos of cute animals and memes on tap?

Some of the most embarrassing lows: making friends with people ‘for networking purposes’. What the actual hell? And I actually clicked one of those ads where some guru is promising high paying leads. I lost $3,000 forever to his already bulky bank account.

I was also the asshole having arguments with strangers in comment threads under news articles. There were many serotonin releases, giving my brain pleasure, every time that little red notification popped up. These highs were only to be followed by come-downs when the notification wasn’t as favourable as I had expected.

I still can’t believe the real pain and heartache of ‘unfriends’ by people I thought were real friends. And the hours spent ignoring my kids while trying to teach them not be screen addicts.

I’ve never had an addiction before. And no-one officially diagnosed me with one. But even when I deleted the app, or deactivated the account temporarily – I’d come crawling back in a few days. The feeling of missing out was insatiable.

For some reason I thought maybe Facebook was an extension of me. It was my little corner of the Internet that I owned. Except that I didn’t own it. It owned me.

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It’s been a month now since I permanently deleted my account. I said a peaceful goodbye in my mind to those old high school friends and work colleagues whose memories of, I will always treasure.

How many hours of my life did I really lose? Was it days, or even weeks? I was never counting. But I’m sure Facebook was.

Since then, I’ve written six songs, learned to play guitar and taken time to gaze into my children’s eyes. It’s like I’m rebuilding my life in the real world. But every single day, people in the real world ask me what I saw on Facebook. I push away the FOMO.

Speaking of FOMO – my young kids always have FOMO.

And I worry about them. When they’re old enough to have social media, but still have developing brains – what will happen to them? I was a functioning, educated adult when I became addicted to Facebook. So how will this affect a developing brain? This drug is everywhere. It’s subtle and it’s sold to you by your own network.

We all have different vices, some are obvious, others are not.

One thing’s for sure: I’m glad I can’t read the comments section to this story.

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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