What activity is possibly more addictive than smoking or sex? According to one U.S. study (via The Daily Mail) it’s checking your Facebook and/or Twitter page.
Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth Business School decided to monitor the desires, and by extension, the willpower of 250 people based in Germany using an online poll. Participants had to check in over the course of seven days, indicating when they felt the greatest desire to do something and how they responded to that desire — essentially whether they gave in or not.
The desires that emerged as the most powerful were those associated with social media. The urge to check one’s Facebook page or Twitter feed were revealed to be the most difficult desires to resist giving in to even in comparison to the desire to smoke or have sex.
What is it about social media that gets hearts racing and that sees our discipline and willpower dissolve before our very eyes? The explanation may come down to the fact that it’s cheap and easy.
The Daily Mail quoted the study’s lead author, Wilhelm Hofmann, who speculated that it’s easier to go online than to say, light up a smoke in the office. Moreover, said the Daily Mail, “it strikes a high note in terms of desire because in the case, of cigarettes and alcohol, social media is also a lot cheaper.”
And just in case you think that willpower comes in handy — think again. The study revealed that the harder people tried to resist their desires, the greater the desire to engage in the forbidden activity grew.
On the bright side, checking your Facebook page, unlike smoking, won’t result in any damage to your long-term health. Unless it’s checking your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page. And in that case, and for the sake of your mental health, you may want to light up a smoke instead.