Why is Facebook so Addictive?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on August 13, 2009

Asleep At The Computer I called a friend last Sunday to say hello and her husband said she was deep in Facebook, and had been for several hours. Several hours! This is a woman who holds a challenging job, has an 18-month old, and even has hobbies on the side. Facebook for several hours? And I know she’s not alone.

Facebook says that it has 250 million users, of which 120 million login once a day, and spend 5 billion minutes doing “stuff.”  Just what what are we all doing on Facebook and why is it so addictive? Here are my thoughts:

Lev Grossman from TIME Magazine says that Facebook is for old fogies and he might be right.  My nephew and niece seem to be abandoning the platform coz oldies like me are flocking to Facebook.  Dan Fletcher writes about teens dropping Facebook when their parents ask to friend them.  But for now, there are millions of us happily spending time on Facebook each day.

How about you?  Are you on Facebook?  How much time do you spend on it each day?  And what do you find addictive about it?

8 replies on “Why is Facebook so Addictive?”

(1) Voyeuristic, (2) Social, (3) marketplace. We are all nosy and like to see what our friends are doing, and what they are doing with their other friends. Plus we are social animals. Check out Roseto. Finally, it is now THE marketplace, where everybody goes to congregate. My viewers increasingly are there, so I am there. That’s why a billboard in Times Square is more expensive than billboards elsewhere in the City. The one thing I don’t like is that there seems to be no way to know with a page, which of your fans clicked on which posts on your wall on what dates. Or is there? Facebook, are you listening? That would be really helpful.

I enjoy Facebook, but I don’t spend nearly as much time on it as I used to. I love reading everyone’s status updates–people are really creative and funny!–and I enjoy looking at photos. I find some of the quizzes to be entertaining, but since I don’t take them I usually block them from my news feed.

I do enjoy that Facebook still is the go-to for people to talk about themselves, more so than blogs or other social media sites. I have friends in Afghanistan, the West Coast and Japan, and I love being able to log in to Facebook and keep in touch with them easily, despite the different time zones.

You capture it perfectly. I’m 45, have 400+ friends, and check it multiple times a day to just catch up with my varied friends. Because of FB I have:
1) reconnected in real time with people from my past – I’ve had some reunions
2) learned many new things about friends old and new — including some that have been helpful to me personally as I learn that someone else has struggled with a similar childraising issue, for example.
3) recruited one friend to raise funds on behalf of my organization (through http://www.runtoremember.org — a way to raise money for hospice while honoring a loved one)
4) been exposed to opposing political opinions — it’s pretty much only in FB that I have friends who are in the other poltical party!
5) stayed in better/closer touch with family
6) helped friends out with housing
7) connected friends from disparate parts of my life who have something in common — their lives have been enriched
8) reached out and just “felt better” on days when I’m feeling down or low
9) learned masses of new things, through friends’ links, that I never would have been exposed to
10) just had hours and hours of fun feeling connected to a vibrant virtual world.

My only regret is that some of my best friends are not on it. They still scoff at it, saying things like, “I don’t want to read about every time a friend goes to the bathroom.” They are so willingly missing the point, I think.

Off topic: I thought of you and this blog today during our day-long meeting about our e-newsletter (and other publications). Some issues that came up included whether to keep content above the fold, whether we should recycle or “repurpose” our content and whether hyperlinks should open in a new window–all of which you have addressed here.

Thanks for always posting such great topics!

I’m not sure that I agree with Lev Grossman’s “Facebook is for old fogies” take–it still seems amazingly cross-generational to me. It could be happening on some level, but I’m not seeing it with my own kids yet. I have one in college, one in high school, and one in middle school, and they are all still addicted. I’m facebook friends with all of them too, and keeping in the loop with what’s going on with them and their friends is certainly a plus. Another thing to remember is that facebook is global–I lived in Chile for a couple of my pre-teen years, and a boyhood friend from over 30 years ago just reconnected with me last week.

Old fogies like FB because we lost touch with so many people and love getting back in touch with them. Imagine reconnecting with your best junior high school buddy who you haven’t seen or talked to in over forty years – now that’s something magical. Being one of the first to know about the latest viral vid is cool but can’t compare with rekindling memory lane.

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