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February 24, 2014

My love affair, and break-up, with Facebook


Yes, it’s a waste of time. Sure, maybe it’s affecting our generation’s ability to effectively communicate. But research that proves Facebook actually affects your opinion of yourself and overall outlook on life? That’s startling and something that shouldn’t be ignored.

I finally made the decision to leave Facebook after the aforementioned neglectful boyfriend broke up with me. Pictures and posts portraying a newly single, happy and “free” guy saddened and frustrated me and felt like complete betrayal, especially when mutual friends spent time with him as if nothing happened. I didn’t understand how he could be over the serious relationship so quickly and, frankly, I didn’t want to see him going on as if I never existed. It was too hurtful. To protect myself, I broke up with Facebook and never looked back.

So here I am, three months later, still Facebook-less. And I’m here to tell you, it feels good. My friends frequently tell me they wish they could get rid of it, too, but they don’t feel like they can, almost like an addiction they just can’t shake. Why does Facebook have such an intense hold over us?

Researchers from Germany recently discovered that Facebook use is actually linked to physiological activity in the reward center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens. Published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it is the first study detailing how Facebook affects us physically.

After analyzing the Facebook use of 31 participants and using MRI technology, researchers learned that any time someone used Facebook and received personal positive feedback, like the kind a person would get from seeing a complimentary comment on a picture or the “liking” of a status, the nucleus accumbens would respond with pleasure and it would register as a reward, the same way it does when a person gains money, food or has sex, researchers said.

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