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The Symptoms of Facebook Bingeing

Abraham Zambrano
University of Texas at El Paso


Facebook is an online social networking site created in 2004 by five Harvard University
colleagues for the purpose of chatting between other students in the campus. Now, over one
billion people use the social networking site to communicate with their loved ones and
acquaintances everyday. In order to join Facebook, a person can sign up in a simple process. The
only information he or she has to give to join is their name, email, date of birth, and their desired
password in a simple form straight from the main homepage of the website. Once the person
joins, he or she can send a friend request to their friends, family, and acquaintances (if they
choose to), giving the right to like and comment on a persons material (status, photos, links).
Facebook not only gives someone the right to interact with a lot of things on a persons profile,
but also he or she can tag people in photos and invite and be invited to events that the
community set up occasionally, and also play games with and against his or her friends and
family. However, Facebook is also viewed negatively by some people as a distraction or
downer in their lives. In this essay, I will discuss how the other side of Facebook is a discourse
community that views it as an unnecessary attachment to their lives and how others can be
affected from their addiction.


A discourse community is a group of people that share the same common goal or interest
that can be adopted in certain ways for public discussion. John Swales, a former professor of
linguistics at the University of Michigan, proposed six characteristics on what a discourse
community is defined as true. Swales defines a discourse community into six characteristics in
order to verify that a certain group commits to their defined purpose (Swales 1990). Most
communities all meet these six criteria, and can be found almost anywhere we go. Books,
comics, TV shows, the Internet, your major, discourse communities are all everywhere in sight.
Facebook is a symbol of an immense discourse community that almost everyone in the entire
world has ever heard of once in his or her lifetime, and eventually around 14% of the worlds
population (

of seven billion) join this enormous blue bubble of social interactions for their
purpose of connecting, communicating, and entertaining loved ones and acquaintances on their
spare time. However, some people that use Facebook mistreat the purpose of simply
communicating with people because of their adaption on an unnecessary addiction which can
lead to envy onto others, distraction from their important tasks of their day, and insecurity if the
person has a really low self-esteem.
In The Concept of Discourse Community, John Swales tries to define what discourse
community means by proposing six steps to truly define if a group is actually a discourse
community or not. According to him, a discourse community must have the following in order
for a certain group be classified as one: It must have a broadly agreed set of common public
goals, mechanisms of intercommunication among its members, a set of uses of its
participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback, and so on (Swales
1990). These examples, according to the former professor of linguistics, truly define what a
discourse community is.

Supporting on how a discourse community research paper could be developed, James
Porter defines what intertextuality is and how it is categorized into iterability, which are
segments from other texts, and presupposition, which is context coming from the reader after
reading a segment or a whole text (Porter 1986). Porter further enhances a relation between
intertextuality and discourse community, and explains that people need to see writers whose
products are more evidently part of a larger process and whose work more clearly produces
meaning in social contexts (Porter 1986).
In order to evaluate if Facebook is a discourse community, Ive cited several sources
focusing on the other side of it, attempting to prove if the community that is against the addiction
of the social networking site proves its point that Facebook should not be used as if it is their
own life. All of the following sources except by Swales and Porter consist about the symptoms
of being into Facebook more than usual and how it affects anyone who uses it beyond the limit.
In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg created a code for a new website called theFacebook, which
he initially wanted the website to be universally connected to everyone within the Harvard
University campus. By the next year, Zuckerberg and his colleagues changed the name simply as
Facebook when they purchased the domain facebook.com for $200,000, and eventually
allowed everyone aged 13 and over to join the site by 2006 (Williams 2007). As it was getting
popular over the years by people both in and outside of Harvard, there are some issues
concerning how social networking sites like Facebook impact on their lives and how it can affect
his or her own self and their intentions on completing their own life objectives.
Facebook is a place where everyone can socially connect to friends and family and
entertain a lot of people by doing things such as messaging and sharing media among each other.

While most people do that, others use Facebook excessively that they use it almost every day for
their own purpose. Blogger Sam Woolfe states on his experience while he was using the site.
Feeling a compulsion to use Facebook, becoming restless without it and being unable to
cut down on how often you use it can stop you from doing more fulfilling activities.
There was a point when I intentionally limited myself to use Facebook once a day, only
to check for messages from friends or for updates on future events. I maintained it for a
while, but it was a conscious effort. Now Ive found myself getting back into the habit of
scrolling down the News Feed, wasting my time looking into other peoples lives and
gaining nothing positive from it. This time could be better spent. (Woolfe 2013)
What Woolfe was clarifying is that someone who uses Facebook every day could become really
into it and may feel unsatisfied on what he or she has so far and eventually he/she could become
so out of control that it interferes with work and studies and eventually reach into a point where
its an addiction or a pathological disorder (Woolfe 2013).
Facebook not only can be an unnecessary obstacle on peoples lives, but also it can be
affecting their own personalities by external stimuli (downers). Larry D. Rosen, PhD,
professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, states that:
The more time spent on Facebook is related to a greater tendency toward narcissistic
behaviors among teenagers. Also, it has been discovered that young adults that spend
excessive amounts of time on Facebook show more signs of other psychological
disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies. (Rosen 2011)
Facebook Detox, a blog about asocial networking (not using social sites at all like Facebook),
supports Dr. Rosens claim about the emotional disruption that people that use Facebook
(including children and teenagers) writes about two joint studies conducted by researchers from

Berlins Humboldt University and the Darmstadts Technical University. 600 Facebook users
were conducted in these two studies and results showed that about one-fifth of all recent
online/offline events that had provoked envy among the respondents took place within a
Facebook context (Facebook Detox 2013). The lack of satisfaction that people feel about
themselves can affect them greatly if not treated (if someone is too sensitive and cant move on
with their lives about unnecessary stress to situations like this) and it can lead to social isolation.
As the Internet is advancing forward, creating new ways to entertain people online, so is
the increasing amount of distractions they face every day while focusing on a task. Facebook is a
distraction for people from moving forward of any accomplishments that a person could reach in
the future. Referring back to Dr. Rosens analysis, he affirms that Facebook can be distracting
and can negatively impact learning, from which he also set forth that middle school, high
school and college students who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period
achieved lower grades (Rosen 2011). The lower expectations of children and adolescents from
their education can be a problem as they binge and binge on looking up their profile, while
setting aside important tasks of homework and studying for a spare time at the very end.
In conclusion, while Facebook can be a great way to communicate among people, it also
has its drawbacks when used excessively, as it can cause distractions, negative attitude, and
addiction to certain people when not in self-control of their time. As like other social networking
sites, Facebook is something that could be taken in moderation if a person has the capability to
resist its diversions while focusing on better tasks for the day.


Swales, J. (1990). The Concept of Discourse Community. Genre Analysis: English in Academic
and Research Settings. Boston: Cambridge: UP. 21-32.
Porter, J. (1986). Intertextuality and the Discourse Community. Rhetoric Review 5.1. 34-47.
Williams, C. (2007, October 1). Facebook wins Manx battle for face-book.com The Register.
Retrieved July 25, 2014, from
Woolfe, S. (2013, December 22). Sam Woolfe: The Negative Effects of Facebook: Addiction,
Social Isolation and Depression. Retrieved July 27, 2014, from
Facebook Detox. (2013, February 15). Facebook Detox: Study: Facebook Makes Users Envious
and Dissatisfied. Retrieved July 28, 2014, from
Rosen, L. (2011, June 18). Social Networkings Good and Bad Impacts on Kids.
Retrieved July 28, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/08/social-