There’s nothing like it to keep us in touch with people we care about. Facebook gives us a way to see the big and small events in each other’s lives with ease.
But I also have a huge warning about the use of Facebook for you.
Facebook is a sneaky and insidious creature that will feed on your greatest need and slowly creep into your brain….
Let me explain.
Facebook gives you the cozy and homey feeling of getting to know people. It reminds me of walking through a town at night and getting flashes of people’s lives through their lit windows.
You feel like you are getting to know someone, but you are getting to know exactly the parts of them that they WANT you to know. Everyone edits what they put on display on the site.
You are getting to know the public persona of that person only.
That’s no big problem. Get to know them in person as well. You’ll get the real deal.
Here’s how Facebook works though to hook you.
One of your basic needs is to belong. To feel connected to other people. It’s my need too.
Every human has an inner drive for connection with others. It’s about survival and it’s a deep, core need. Facebook gives you a place to satisfy that need.
You feel connected when you chat with someone on Facebook. Or when someone Likes what you post. Or comments on it. Or Likes your comment. Or comments on your comment.
You get the idea. To your brain, every interaction on Facebook is actually a little confirmation of being connected with another person. One of your deepest needs is being met via computer.
That’s great as long as those needs are also being met person to person.
Now we get to the tricky part.
I’m going to go a little bit scientific on you here – stay with me…
One of the strongest predictors of sustained behavior is called intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement means that a behavior gets a reward only sometimes.
You post on Facebook, sometimes people respond with lots of “feel good connections” and sometimes there is little to no response.
That’s reinforcing you intermittently… with one of your greatest needs.
Here’s another example. I accidentally trained my dog to stare at a certain kitchen cabinet whenever she wanted a dog biscuit. It happened because she would look at it and every once in a while, I would give in and give her a biscuit.
The once in a while reward makes the behavior more and more likely.
Just like sometimes getting lots of feedback on a Facebook post results in your being more likely to get on Facebook again.
Training you to spend more of your time on Facebook. Posting, scrolling around, clicking Like on random cat videos…
Until you find you are wasting lots of time there. More than you intended.
And checking in often to see what you might have missed…
Until you aren’t as productive as you used to be. And you might not even notice because it happened so gradually. And it’s happening all around you too. You aren’t on there any more than other people you know.
Stop the madness!
Call it having too much fun, call it wasting your time, call it addiction. Doesn’t matter what you call it. Just realize it’s a problem for many people. Is it for you?
Can you tell this is the voice of experience? I’ve walked through this myself and out the other side. There is HEALTHY use of Facebook…
It can be done and I’ll teach you the simple secrets.
First, how do you know if you are “hooked” too much on Facebook?
The most important clue is if you are thinking of Facebook when you are not on it.
Do you wonder what you are missing?
Are you eager to get back there to see who may have commented or Liked what you posted?
Do you compose your next post in your head while you are doing other things?
Or do you simply leave Facebook open all the time so you can just switch windows to see it?
That’s too much. Those are signs that you have Facebook Brain.
Here’s what to do about it. Follow these simple rules to retrain your behavior:
Decide the number of times per day you will log into Facebook. (Suggestion – no more than 3.)
Decide how long you will spend on the site.
Use a timer every time you login and always logout when the timer goes off.
It’s that simple, but it may not be easy to reclaim your brain.
You have given yourself powerful reinforcers to behave otherwise and so your Facebook longings and thoughts may persist for several weeks.
Persist with your behavior change though. And get out and get that connection need met more in real life from people you can look in the eye.
You’ll be glad you did.