Saturday, October 03, 2009


The room was dark, dark enough that I really couldn't make out her features. What I could make out was long hair and a medium build of some indiscriminate age, somewhere between 25 and 55. Her accent was also non-descript, though it placed her childhood north of Baltimore and south of Boston. She drummed her fingers nervously on her thighs, as if she was working a keyboard... which of course was what this was all about.
"Thanks for agreeing to talk with me. Will you tell me your name?" Our meeting had been arranged through a mutual friend, with the understanding that it would all be confidential.

She shook her head. "No, I'd really rather not. I told Mike I'd talk to you since you were just doing research, and no names would be used. I mean, it's all kind of embarrassing, and you writing for a newspaper and all."

"Then what should I call you?"

"Umm... how about Mia? I've always liked that name."

"Mia it is. So tell me, Mia... when did you realize you were an addict?"

"I dunno. I'd say it's been a year or so. It's nothing I'm proud of. I wish I could quit."

"I'm sure. Well, how did you get started?"

"It was an old college friend. She told me about it, and it seemed like it might be fun. So I signed up, and sent her a friend request, which she naturally accepted. That led to other friends, then friends of friends, then some co-workers and next thing I knew..." She trailed off and sighed. "The next thing I knew I couldn't stop posting."

"You're saying that you've become a Facebook addict?"

"Yeah... and it's ruining my life."

"How so?"

"Well, I have to constantly update my page, posting what I'm eating, what I'm watching, how I feel. And my friends comment on that and I comment back. It's getting so I don't have time to actually do anything worth posting about except the posting itself."

"And what about your friends?"

"They're in the same boat. I never actually see them in person or talk to them on the phone. I don't even instant message with them anymore. All we ever seem to do is throw a pretend pie at each other, or post a score in Word Jumble, or join another group like ‘People against backpacks with wheels.'"

"Well, you must go out sometimes. Then you take a break from your computer, right?"

"Not really. I have Facebook mobile on my phone, so I get updates if I go the grocery store or the gym... both of which I also post about when I'm out. I mean, there's got to be more out of life than being afraid to take a shower for more than 5 minutes because my iPhone doesn't have a waterproof case."

"What do you do when you're at work? You're a...?"

"I work for a real estate management company. All our properties are online, so I spend my day on a computer, updating our listings and seeing what kind of traffic they're generating. So I just open another tab with my page on it, and punch over to it to add or check it."

"How many times a day do you do that?"

She shrugged. "I dunno. I never counted. But I would say I probably post or comment on a post every few minutes. So maybe 10, 20 times an hour."

"That works out to over a hundred times a day!"

"Yeah probably."

"Do you enjoy it?"

"I used to." She sighed. "Now it just seems like I can't stop. I know it steals hours of my life that I will never get back. But I can't bear the thought of not being online, not having people read what I write, even if it's really not that interesting. It's just that..." Her voice trailed off.

"It's just that what?"

"It's just that even if I stop, it'll just keep going. And I can't bear for it to go on without me. So I guess I have no choice."

"Mia, thanks for talking with me."

"You're welcome." Her voice suddenly sounded cheerier. "And thank you too... at least now I have something new to post about." She took out her iPhone and started jabbing at it. Even in the dark, I could see her smile.


Marc Wollin of Bedford still doesn't have a picture of himself on his Facebook page. His column is posted regularly in The Record-Review and The Scarsdale Inquirer.

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