The 12 Stages of Facebook Addiction

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The Internet is addicting and there are studies to prove it. Once people get involved with watching videos of kids falling down, leaving overly harsh anonymous comments on news stories and reading about how Swiffer will kill your dog, well, it's just damn difficult to stop.

Social networks have no doubt increased the desire to be online. From Tweets about how many miles your friend ran today (she's so self-involved) to people you barely know on FourSquare checking in at bars you wish you were cool enough to patronize, the content is mesmerizing and let's admit it, you are hooked.

Worst of all is Facebook. Whether you are a tween posting quizzes on your friends' walls ("Would you make out with me?") or a bored retiree playing Farmville, there is something for everyone on "the book." It's hard enough to make it through all the status updates each day, let alone to visit all the pages and check out all the photos. In short, it's impossible to resist.

Hair Balls feels your pain and, in an effort to help you better understand and face your addiction, gives you the 12 stages of Facebook addiction. We promise that the first one is not, "Let go. Let Zuckerberg."

12. Animosity You spend time Tweeting about how much Facebook sucks. You might even e-mail people and swear you would never join the "cult" of Facebook no matter how much fun they say it is. You tell old classmates they can easily find you on Classmates.com if they wish. You find the whole thing gross and you can't understand why anyone would waste their time on that stupid Web site.

11. Fear The overwhelming amount of stories about Facebook and the saturation amongst your friends terrifies you. You wonder what is wrong with all these people. Maybe that cult joke you made isn't really a joke. Could this be the beginning of the zombie apocalypse? You must do some research so you can warn others of just how bad this place is.

10. Curiosity You are about to go on a date and you Google the guy to see what he is like. The first entry is his Facebook page, so you begrudgingly click on it. You can only see a limited amount of information and the only photo is of his dog. What the hell? What is he hiding? You discuss it with him at dinner and he says he likes it and that he keeps much of his information private to avoid being stalked by crazy women. So, the date is a bust, but you are intrigued by this new data. You wonder if one of the founders of Facebook really looks like Justin Timberlake. To Google...

9. Confusion Your research into a community that seems to have developed within Facebook has deepened and you ask all your friends to explain what "poking" is and why anyone would care about status updates there when they could just check Twitter. Your friends' answers are unsatisfactory and, as purely an experiment, you sign up, you know, just to see what it's like and be able to warn others against its evils.

8. Frustration The sign-up process was fairly easy, but you have no idea how to work the interface. You upload a photo but can't understand where it goes when it is uploaded or why you have to crop it. You edit your profile to add your favorite music and TV shows, you have no friends to see it. Facebook seems flat and one-dimensional. Maybe this was a mistake. You feel alone.

7. Infatuation Your first friend request is accepted. Sure, it's your mom, but it's someone. You do some searching now that you have the hang of this thing and find dozens of your friends online. Now, you're getting somewhere. You realize this could be a replacement for that twenty-five dollar monthly "gold" membership on Classmates.com. Another friend adds you and another. You've posted a few status updates and even gotten a couple "liked." You realize Facebook isn't so bad after all.

6. Elation A couple cute guys "poked" you. You started playing Mafia Wars and Farmville simultaneously. You've uploaded party photos you took with your iPhone and tagged your friends. You're meeting people and commenting on status updates. You're posting funny videos of kids falling down and getting push notifications on your phone. Why did you ever think this place was so awful? You even met a nice guy -- a friend of a friend -- on Facebook and started dating. OMG, he wants you to agree that you are "in a relationship" with him. The little heart is adorable. You click "accept." The "likes" pile up. 5. Obsession Large portions of your day are now taken up managing your profile, reading stuff from friends and playing games. You check from your phone when you aren't by the computer and spend hours leaving cute wall posts for your boyfriend and chatting with multiple people at the same time. You call it "multitasking." You're starting to post updates at a rapid rate and you are collecting friends like that crazy old lady down the street from you collects cats. You don't care. You have more friends now than ever, even if you have only met like ten of them in person.

4. Annoyance Who is this chick that just became friends with your boyfriend? Her profile picture is her in a bikini! You checked their mutual friends and there aren't any. One of your new online BFF's turned out to be a member of the Tea Party and posted crazy Sarah Palin rants on her wall. You ignore her, but if she does it to you, she gets un-friended. One of your other friends posted a really unflattering picture of you at some party and tagged you. Doesn't she know?

3. Anger You caught the boyfriend cheating with his new "friend," broke up with him, which showed up in your timeline. All your friends had your back, but the humiliation was so public. You asked one of your friends to not un-friend him so you can check up on him because he's such a jerk and you just want to make sure he stays that way. You've gotten tagged in a bunch of ugly photos and people don't respond to your status updates with as much frequency. Every Farmville update you see serves to remind you what a stupid thing that was and how dumb you were for getting involved. You can't take it anymore. You decide to delete your account. It's over.

2. Panic A few days after your meltdown, you start to freak out. What have you done? Can you get your profile back or is it gone forever? You announced on Twitter that you would never go back to Facebook and that it was a stupid, shitty place for assholes. You came very close to starting a MySpace account until a friend tells you it's a bad idea and says you can reinstate your Facebook profile. You miss it so, but are you willing to suffer your friends laughing at your drama? Your friend finally un-friended your ex, so now you don't have access to that douchebag's profile anymore, but you're over him anyway. You just miss Facebook. You feel lost.

1. Resignation You realize you aren't the only one who has done this and you get your Facebook profile started again. You go through and delete a few people you don't know, clean up your wall and reorganize your photos. You figure that if you are going to do this again, you may as well do it right. A Farmville invite pops up and you chuckle to yourself. You get poked by a cute guy and figure you'll poke back, just for the hell of it. What could possibly happen? Click.

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