She’s a temptress you love to like. She keeps you connected, shares your most intimate thoughts and photos, but only when you tell her to. She’s addictive, validating, and pretty much an open book. If you had to describe your relationship, you’d say, “It’s complicated.” Yes, your love affair with Facebook is thorny, and you probably couldn’t quit her—even if you dared to try, according to research from Cornell University.
Researchers illuminated the complexities surrounding men and women’s decisions to use or not to use the social media platform. Here are four reasons why it’s so hard to walk away, according to the study:
1. Perceived Addiction: If you find Facebook is a habitual or even an addictive everyday practice, you’re most likely to return to the social media site out of custom. One study participant admitted, “In the first ten days, whenever I opened up an Internet browser, my fingers would automatically go to ‘f’.”
2. Privacy and Surveillance: Not that you’re apt to admit it, but if you use Facebook to manage or cultivate a perceived idea of yourself—as a macho CrossFit enthusiast or a die-hard Tough Mudder participant—by flooding your feed with posts and pictures to create that perception, odds are you’re going to log back in. But if people thought their Facebook activity was being monitored, they were less likely to revert to their Facebook-scrolling ways.
3. Subjective Mood: If you’re feeling down in the dumps like a raincloud has lodged itself permanently over your life, then you’re more likely to go back to Facebook. People who report being in good moods are more likely to abstain.
4. Other Social Media: The heart wants what the heart wants. If Facebook is your one and only social media platform of choice, then it’s going to be difficult to refrain, but if you’re active on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, then it’s easier to stay on track because you’re occupying your time elsewhere. What’s more, when participants were asked to reflect on the “appropriate” role for technology in their social lives, they reverted back to Facebook, however, they altered their use. Some deleted the app from their smartphones, others reduced their number of friends, and other people limited the amount of time spent on the feed.
So, the siren you can’t get over will probably also be the one who never got away—because you cannot and will not give her up.