Alex Massie

Facebook is Popular, So When Can We Start Banning It?

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For those of you not watching the football (England 1-0 up at the moment, incidentally, and so just one blunder from being plunged back into the slough of despond) consider this question, asked by the Irish Labour MEP Nessa Childers:

There has been an explosion in the usage of this online social networking tool across Europe: unfortunately many people have crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction. This is a real health issue and I am calling upon the Commission to take action.

Visiting your Facebook page frequently actually causes what psychologists refer to as ‘intermittent reinforcement’. Notifications, messages and invitations reward you with an unpredictable high, much like gambling. That anticipation can get dangerously addictive. Many people access their Facebook page once or twice a week; however, for others it has turned into a compulsion — and it is a compulsion to dissociate yourself from your real world and go and live in the Facebook world.

Moderate usage is not a problem at all for most people, however some people do not seem to realise that it is not real life.

With the passing into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU now has increased powers to legislate when there is a threat to public health in Europe. Will the Commission submit proposals to Parliament to address this growing threat to the mental health of European citizens?

My thanks to Slugger O'Toole for digging this up.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSocietyeurope