Smoking or Facebook: Which addiction is worse?
It has been nearly 7 years since I started using facebook, and since the time “News Feed” came into existence, I have seen humungous quantities of data pass through my eyes. This feed—best defined as a newspaper about all of your friend’s activities—has exponentially increased people’s addiction to the social network. Just like chain smokers can’t do without a 10-pack Marlboro or Camel lights everyday, people find it difficult to get through the day without logging on to facebook at least a dozen times. And in extreme cases, some people can’t get off of it. It’s like their lifeline: from posting and commenting on status updates; sharing photos, videos, and links; adding applications and playing games; checking into places and attending events; to chatting and a lot more!
Undoubtedly, there are benefits of connecting, showing off, and venting with friends and family over distances, there are also several “not-so-good” things happening in the background. And I can attest to this from several observations I’ve made over a period of time. Facebook, and many social sites, has been accused of collecting its users’ data for corporate benefit. For those who are statistics and analytics experts would have guessed by now where I’m going with this. The real-time status updates, in conjunction with your location information, are used to determine what you like to buy, watch on TV, hear on the radio, etc. Your “Likes” help social networks, and in turn corporations, to make decisions on what needs to be sold or shown on media channels in your particular region. Call it an Invisible Survey. Many movies & commercials that I watched on TV or products I saw on website ads had left me awestruck to think, “Oh my God! This is what I have been yearning for and was thinking about just a few days ago.” But, repetitive observations made me realize that this is no co-incidence at all.
Smoking, when done heavily, is clearly dangerous to the physical health in the long run. Similarly, an excessive addiction to social sites can drain a lot of your precious brain’s resources that could be put to better use. If corporations are getting access to our sensitive personal information, then shouldn’t we be wary of what we post even in a closed network? I’d love to know what you think is worse, so I’ll be happy to interact over comments here. As an analogy, I’ll leave you with Morpheus’s words to the protagonist, Neo, in the movie, The Matrix, that best describe this addiction:
“The matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. When you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters; the very minds of the people we’re trying to save. But, until we do, these people are still a part of that system. And that makes them our enemy. You have to understand most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they’ll fight to protect it!”