ADHD and Facebook are not a good combination.
In fact, after some research I’ve become convinced that Facebook is pretty much the worst thing for ADHD…ever.
Just to be clear, I use Facebook to communicate with friends and family and to house two different groups. (for now)
I’ve written about executive function for years, and I’ve produced my own curriculum around managing emotions with ADHD.
So I of all people know how important it is for ADHDers to find their tribe.
Facebook was designed to bring people together. The space was there for anyone to use for free and create their own private groups. Facebook allowed people who otherwise would never meet to connect and build relationships.
Unfortunately, it has evolved into a massive, overstimulating vortex that does the opposite of it’s original intent.
And it’s a nightmare for everyone with self-regulation issues.
You are never going to change your life by posting in a Facebook Group.
Check out the podcast version of this post below:
4 Huge reasons why facebook is the worst for ADHD
Every issue becomes polarized
Have you ever click on this this article?
Floating around Facebook a few times per year it always causes a stir because it’s all about ADHD being a, “fake” condition.
I don’t want to waste time debating that point, but I do want to show you that sensational headlines make us click. Particularly if those headlines seem in any way connected to us.
The human brain loves clickbait. The ADHD brain loves it even more.
In an article for Time Magazine, Roger McNamee states, “One of the best ways to manipulate attention is to appeal to outrage and fear, emotions that increase engagement.” Source
Sensational headlines and graphics manipulate our attention and pull us in, then we click, and possibly comment. This is how every issue becomes polarized.
I’ve seen Facebook threads that had to be shut down because threats were being made. It’s totally ridiculous, and it’s directly caused by the, “algorithm” as they call it.
The longer Facebook can keep you engaged in a debate the more advertisements they can put in front of you.
it’s all advertising
Facebook’s profitability depends on advertising, otherwise it wouldn’t be free.
So at least half of what you see as you scroll is there because somebody paid to put it in front of you.
You are only seeing the things that Facebook has determined through tracking will suck you in. Your feed is very personalized.
Log into Facebook and count how advertisements you see in relation to posts from your friends and family. Keep in mind some of the advertising is very subtle, but it is all designed to keep you from clicking out of the app.
Anyone with money to spend has access to your personal preferences and they can tailor the advertising to your tastes. Because your attention is worth money to Facebook they couldn’t care less about the quality of the information being put out.
Much of the information is not accurate
Since anybody with money has access to your attention there is no way to know what information is accurate and what is not.
Facebook is hoping you don’t really care, so they feed you things they think you will like. Facebook live anyone?
We with ADHD have trouble filtering information and determining what is worth paying attention to, so when faced with a bright and shiny feed that is designed to pull us in…well, it happens.
Absorbing all sorts of extraneous info that’s exciting but factually inaccurate does nothing to improve our lives.
And worse, even if we are looking for information on ADHD much of what we find is anecdotal and not medically verified.
Spend five minutes in one of the larger ADHD group boards and you can find half a dozen examples of inaccurate or incomplete information.
According to McNamee, “On Facebook, information and disinformation look the same; the only difference is that disinformation generates more revenue, so it gets better treatment…In the same vein, Facebook’s algorithms promote extreme messages over neutral ones, which can elevate disinformation over information, conspiracy theories over facts.” Source
McNamee still owns shares of Facebook. In case you were wondering.
I don’t need to explain this. We all know that our personal information is out there.
Most of us are ok with it and continue to use Facebook because it doesn’t feel real. Even when you see Zuckerberg on television testifying, it’s hard to imagine how your personal information could be used against you.
While applying for a grant from Facebook I suggested in my application that there should be a membership site for people to connect, along with a business or shopping side where all the advertising could go.
That way all of our personal info and preferences wouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder as it is now.
I don’t see this happening, because then Facebook wouldn’t be free.
I recently starting moving my ADHD Coaching Corner group over to Mighty Networks so there are no distractions and we can meet/learn in privacy.
Research into whether Facebook is addictive is ongoing, but from the ADHD perspective it certainly is. I’ve had clients tell me that Facebook is at least 50% of the reason they couldn’t function in the workplace.
Addiction of any kind produces a set of negative behaviors on top of the ADHD stuff we are dealing with.
First, negative behaviors: (associated with Facebook use)
It’s easy to go on and get a quick hit of dopamine, it takes no mental energy.
Facebook satisfies our voyeuristic tendencies. We love to see what our neighbors and faraway friends are up to.
Ego inflation is definitely part of the appeal of Facebook. Parents love to post pics of their offspring and see how many likes and compliments they can get.
We can pick and choose what to show to others so they only see the best version of us.
Next, the more positive behaviors:
Facebook allows us to connect with people far from us and stay in touch.
We feel understood when we find others we identify with.
Makes us feel part of a larger more exciting world. Meets our needs for social connection in a digital form.
what is addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction by the chart below.
Addiction is characterized by2:
- Inability to consistently Abstain;
- Impairment in Behavioral control;
- Craving; or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences;
- Diminished recognition of significant problemswith one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships; and
- A dysfunctional Emotional response. LINK TO ASAM
The problem isn’t so much that we crave scrolling, the problem is that when we can’t do it we have a meltdown. We become irritable and treat the actual humans around us badly. Or worse, ignore them completely.
ADHD specialists Ned Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey, M.D., observe that “people with attention deficit live on the stress of constant fixes of information, and physically crave the bursts of stimulation from checking e-mail, voicemail, or answering the phone.” Source
Addiction, no matter how you cut it, lowers your quality of life.
We confuse real, human interaction with “virtual” relationships
A recent study provides some fascinating insights into our use of social networks. Source
First, many of us use Facebook and other social media deliberately to alter our mood. In other words, we self-soothe by scrolling.
I’ve had several clients tell me that Facebook is how they numb out or escape from life’s problems.
Next, Individuals who struggle with social anxiety might feel online relationships are less risky than face-to-face interactions, and stop engaging in, “real life.”
Compounding this, is the fact that for those of us that lean toward a more neurotic worldview (anxiety, self-doubt, negative feelings) the online world provides social support and identification.
We are all seeking acceptance and a sense of belonging. Even if we are only presenting a stylized version of ourselves.
Bottom Line on ADHD and Facebook
I am not saying everyone should delete the app from their phone and never go back.
If you have attention and executive function challenges, Facebook is not going to help you. And it might actually decrease your ability to manage your ADHD.
Look for accurate medical information OFF of Facebook. Get the ADHD Expert Database
Talk to your doctor about the treatment options available to you.
Find social support that inspires you. (instead of “support groups” that distract)
Avoid any social network that overstimulates/sucks you in.
You are never going to change your life by posting in a Facebook Group.
Only you can make the decision to take action. Nothing in your life will change until you do.