1With the increasing popularity of wireless devices like smartphones — devices that can move lots of data very quickly — users have access to their social networks 24 hours a day. Most social networking sites have developed applications for your mobile phone, so logging on is always convenient. Social networks also tap into our human desire to stay connected with others. Besides, the rush of nostalgia as you connect with your former grade-school classmate on Facebook can be quite heady and exciting.
2But what's the main reason we find these sites so addictive? Plain old narcissism. We broadcast our personalities online whenever we publish a thought, photo, YouTube video or answer one of those “25 Things About Me" memes. We put that information out there so people will respond and connect to us. And being part of a social network is sort of like having your own entourage that follows you everywhere, commenting on and applauding everything you do. It's very seductive.
3In 2008, researchers at the University of Georgia studied the correlation between narcissism and Facebook users. Unsurprisingly, they found that the more “friends" and wall posts a user had, the more narcissistic he or she was. They noted that narcissistic people use Facebook in a selfpromoting way, rather than in a connective way. It may be an obvious theory, but it also suggests that social networks bring out the narcissist in all of us.
4Social networks are also a voyeuristic experience for many users. Following exchanges on Twitter or posts on Facebook and MySpace are akin to eavesdropping on someone else's conversation. It's entertaining and allows you to feel like a “fly on the wall" in someone else's life.
5Social networking sites also publicly list your “friends" or “followers" — giving you instant status. How many people do you know online who spend all their time trying to get more friends, more followers, more testimonials? We work hard in real life to elevate our statuses, make friends and search out boosters for our self-esteem. Online social networking provides this to us, and we don't even have to change out of our sweatshirts to get it.
(adapted from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/socialnetworking/information/social-networking-sites-addictive2.htm)
addictive: viciante; tap into: explorar/tirar proveito; broadcast: anunciar; entourage: comitiva/séquito; akin to eavesdropping: parecido com bisbilhotar; booster: aquilo que impulsiona; sweatshirts: camisetas