You tell yourself you're just going to jump on FB for a second before starting work, and before you know it, you've watched two You Tube videos, clicked LIKE on a silly cat photo and started stalking your crush.
Crap! Where did the time go? What's wrong with me?
You're not alone. Facebook is addictive for 3 very simple reasons. The good news is that these 3 reasons are also why Facebook is not a waste of time-- if used mindfully to co-create the life you want.
Facebook has images. Mark Zuckerberg was, like many of us in school, a lonely dork, but the brilliance of his creation was the uses of faces.
When babies learn, the first thing they do is watch faces.
When we are on Facebook, we are watching faces - and like the mother-baby gaze, it creates a rush of oxytocin, the chemical of bonding and connection and love.
Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neuromodulator in the brain, and it's what women release when they breastfeed. It also regulates orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors. It's the connecting chemical. It's the love drug. It modulates.
So, this is why Facebook allows you to feel connected emotionally to people from all over the world.
And when you leverage this emotional connection in mindful ways, you can use Facebook to make your dreams come true - find a new job, get advice about moving to a new area, and network with others in your field.
Facebook creates desire. Because of the image-fueled, right-brained infusion of feeling we get on Facebook, we can find ourselves feeling things we wouldn't otherwise dare to feel.
We see a friend of a friend posting about her mother in the hospital. We think, maybe I could call my mom and open the door of my heart to her.
We watch a TED talk about how having a stroke changed someone into a better person, and we wonder, could my chronic illness be an entrance into something deeper for me?
We click LIKE on a photo of someone's first published book arriving in the mail and we start to use the jealousy to fuel our own desire for our work and dreams.
All this clicking leads to this desire because of another hormone: dopamine.
Dopamine is related to the word dope. It's the hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates reward-driven learning. It's that shot we get when we do something well, or succeed, or learn new information. And like social media, it's addictive.
This is why we feel compelled to click and click when we are online and why we can say things we wouldn't otherwise say to someone in person by text and chat. It's why Facebook has come to be known as F*** book. It's fun and dangerous. If you have a smart phone, it's crack in your hand. It transmits.
You can learn to use the dope of Facebook to inspire your own deepest desires.
As you harness the power of social media to connect with other people around the world, ask yourself, What are my desires? How can we connect with others to empower each other?
Facebook has words. Words touch us both intellectually and emotionally. Words connect. Words create. Words make the world.
Let's look again at the brain to see how this works.
The left side of the brain is dominant in Western culture. This is where language is mostly processed and controlled. It is the side that controls rational thought, linear thinking, narrative, logic, numbers, and judgment.
The right side of the brain is the more creative side because this is where our capacity for feeling comes from--both literally (can you feel this?) and figuratively (how do you feel?) The right side also processes our understandings of images, music, colors, sounds, rhythm, shapes, bodily movement--in short, beauty and meaning.
And so, what is happening with the increasing usage of the world wide web? We are strengthening both the left and the right sides of our brains--at the same time as the dominance of pure lines of linear logic and language begin to decrease.
We can, on Facebook, begin to co-create with others--out of love and desire and connection.
How do I know all this is true?
This year, I published the world's first book of Facebook co-created poetry. Since 2010, I have been co-creating a poem each Wednesday with friends on Facebook by asking them to suggest a word in the comment boxes below my status update and then co-creating a poem using all their words.
The book is called Wednesday and includes the names of over 300 Facebook friends who combined their oxytocin and dopamine and right and left sides of their brains to co-create poems with me.
And I continue to write a poem each week. I invite you to join me--and learn for yourself that Facebook is not a waste of time.
Many pundits agree that Facebook has changed the world. But the deeper truth is that through Facebook, we are the ones who can make the world.