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Tara Stiles Headshot

Help! I'm Addicted to FaceBook!

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Pretty much everyone I know has a Facebook account. I use it for emailing, messaging, sharing pictures, and more. That sounds pretty reasonable, right? Well, Facebook has a way of creeping from something useful into a major contributor to carpal tunnel, burning eyes, procrastination, and mindless clicking.

Haven't seen people you went to high school with in ten years or more? With Facebook it's no problem. Since you can view everyone's friend list as soon as you connect with one person, the floodgates open, and you're back in your hometown, for better or worse.

Want to see what people are up to but have no interest in really talking to them? No problem with Facebook. If someone has an open profile you can click around on their page like you are their BFF, seeing all their pictures, friends' comments, and status updates. You can locate exactly where someone is and how they're feeling today in 3 minutes or less.

Got something to promote? It's no problem with Facebook. Set your favorite site as your status, create a link to your project and your friends will surely check it out. Got a new business? Create a Facebook group and your friends can join and keep in contact with all the updates of your company.

Ok, obviously I am a Facebook user. I enjoy seeing a picture of my friend when I send them a message. I am a fan of the status update. I even like notifications and am only mildly concerned when I am friend-requested by a total stranger. I enjoy clicking through pictures of my long lost friends' houses in the suburbs and seeing their kids covered in spaghetti. It's sort of exotic to a country girl transplant like me.

So here is the problem, well, my problem. And I am assuming I'm not alone on this one. I'm on Facebook all the time! I go to the site not even conscious that I am going to it. I turned on my computer this morning with the intention of opening Word first thing, and where did I find myself? You guessed it. Facebook. I am addicted! Admitting is the first step to recovery (bankers take note). Sign me up for Facebook rehab.

Pope Benedict XVI has warned us about getting in a pickle with Facebook. Now I'm not one to go around quoting any kind of Church, especially if you knew the extent of my Catholic grade school story, but this was sort of interesting. The Associated Press brought us his thoughts about how Facebook (and MySpace, a whole other topic mostly about kids and bands) can foster friendships and understanding, but warns that they also can isolate people and marginalize others. Benedict welcomes as a "gift" new technologies such as social networking sites, saying they respond to the "fundamental desire" of people to communicate. But he warns that "obsessive" virtual socializing can isolate people from real interaction and deepen the digital divide by excluding those already on the sidelines. He urges producers to ensure that the content respects human dignity, and of course the "goodness and intimacy of human sexuality."

What about burning eyes, carpal tunnel, hunched shoulders, stiff hips, and monkey mind? Those issues are more interesting to me as a health, yoga, and psychology geek.

I would friend-request the Pope. What would his status updates be? "Slipping into Prada loafers getting ready for mass."

So here I am, busted by the Pope! On one hand, he's got a point. Cyber-bullying is not a joke. The horrific suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier from Missouri in October of 2006 was the direct result of her former friend's mom taunting her through MySpace. Being a teenager is hard enough. I can't even imagine what kids go through now. There are so many new ways to torture each other. I know a few teens in NY that have problems with teasing each on Facebook too. It's a mess.

I'm sure adults have had problems with taunting and other social blunders on Facebook too, but the majority of problems adults face is just plain over-use. Let me reference my "25 random things." If you're a Facebook user, you are well aware of the "25 random things" that have been going around in the last few months. Maybe you've written yours. Or, maybe you think you won't get pulled in. Good luck.

I should be writing at this moment. July 1st deadline will be here soon. FB is one big distraction really, but I do firmly believe in its usefulness. And its ability to deliver BlockBuster-esque horror, comedic, and dramatic episodes in the disconnected yet intimate way only the modern web experience can.

Correct me if I am alone on this one, but the reality of our lives displayed on Facebook splattered with debauchery is a big part of the fun!

I've come up with some warning signs here. This may be the start of developing a support group for Facebook addicts. The group will be listed on Facebook, where you can become a fan of the group, add pictures, look at pictures of other cute people who are in the group, and write on the wall.

10 warning signs that you may be addicted to Facebook

1. Facebook is your home page.

2. You update your status more than twice a day.

3. You have over 500 "friends" half of whom you've never actually met.

4. As soon as you step away from your computer you're on FB on your phone.

5. You are a FB stalker. You qualify as a FB stalker if you

a) click on someone's profile more than once a day even if they haven't messaged or tagged you in a photo.

b) have dragged and dropped more than 3 FB photos (not from your own profile)

c) actually go to a place mentioned on someone's page in hopes of seeing them in real life...creepy!

6. You change your profile picture more than a 12-year=old girl.

7. You have checked your FB page while reading this article.

8. You clean up your "wall" so it looks like you spend less time on FB.

9. You are a member of more than 10 groups and respond to every event invitation "attending" even if you have no intention of going.

10. You change your relationship status just to mess with people.

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