The Social Media Epidemic: Is it a Good or a Bad Thing?

The Social Media Epidemic: Is it a Good or a Bad Thing?

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  1. A few years ago, just when Facebook was really taking off, several friends and family members pestered me mercilessly, trying to get me to sign up. I thought it was a fad that would die away, and I avoid fads even more than I do virulent outbreaks of contagious diseases. I noticed that the people who had joined Facebook spent a considerable amount of time online, far more than they used to, and most of it on Facebook. I thought it might be a new form of addiction that the government would eventually ban. A month later, I learned that both my Senator and Congressman had Facebook pages, which frightened me more than it surprised me. Eventually I gave in and signed up. For the first couple weeks, I would log on to Facebook for about 10 minutes every few days.

    Then I discovered the applications, and it was all downhill from there.


     Before long, I was doing every survey that came along; I had to discover what color was “me” and what my spirit animal was, I had to know what Disney/Pixar character I was and to what periodic element I was most closely related. Then someone introduced me to Zynga games. The next thing I knew, I had not one but three Mafia Wars characters of various skills and accomplishments. I spent much of my day receiving and giving virtual gifts in the form of guns, explosives and Ninja assassins. Before I knew it, I was spending over five hours a day plugged in to Facebook.

    Fortunately, I came to my senses… eventually. I stopped playing the games, I learned to ignore the applications and I began limiting my time online to posting silly and/or ridiculous photographs, sharing the occasional joke, venting my many frustrations and keeping up with the events in the lives of my friends.

    Facebook is addictive. Frankly, the entire Internet is addictive, if you let it become so. Most of my friends went through the same thing I did; most recovered as I did and now—like me—limit themselves to 10 to 30 minutes a day on Facebook. Some friends were not so lucky; several keep the Facebook Home page open all the time and check on posts every 10 or 15 minutes. I have no idea how they manage to get any work done.

    The original concept of social media is a wonderful thing: a means for friends separated by distance to reconnect and keep in touch without having to write lengthy letters (and who enjoys doing that anyway?) or making protracted and sometimes expensive long distance phone calls. For me, it was a great way to get back in touch with many old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen or talked to in thirty years; it’s also an excellent way to plan get-togethers with a group of friends, not to mention an excellent forum for poking fun at the mainstream media.


    So, just like everything on the Internet, Facebook is a wonderful and dreadful thing at once. Like so much in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to keep your job and maintain domestic tranquility, do yourself a favor and restrict your time on Facebook to after work hours and for no more than half an hour a day. And for the love of God, do you really need to know what kind of tree you are, or what angel resides inside you? Leave the applications alone if you know what’s good for you.

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