By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Facebook: A Swedish perspective

Facebook is a big hit in Sweden, with about 25 percent of the population signed up, according to what I have been told (I have about 50 Swedish Facebook friends). It is interesting that the more-trusting Swedes are far more likely than Americans not to activate privacy settings, so anybody, and not just Facebook friends, can see their profiles and walls. I have also learned during this trip to Sweden that the Swedes have even given their very own nickname to Facebook -- "Fejan," with "fej" (pronounced like the girl´s name Fay) is short for "face" and "-an" making a definite article, here suggesting that Facebook is a living being.

And yesterday in Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden´s leading newspapers, they ran part six of an ongoing series called "Life on Fejan," a "series on what Facebook is doing with us." This one was on Facebook addicts, particularly at-home moms with small children, who long for contact with adults. The article interviewed one woman who logged on to Facebook 20 times a day, mostly to add status updates -- as many as ten a day -- and, above all, to check on comments on her status updates from her Facebook friends. One of her status updates attracted 78 comments, she reported. "Yes, it is a little addictive. If I write that I feel really depressed one day, soon ten people have sent me messages to cheer me up. That makes me feel better." The article then quoted psychologists who believe people can become somewhat addicted to looking for comments on their posts, logging on again and again to look. "Facebook is like a big gossip magazine -- except better because you know everyone who is in it."

The woman interviewed in the article finally concluded that she had become addicted to Facebook, and decided to go cold turkey by giving it up altogether. Others have sought professional help for their Facebook addiction, the article added with a tone of Swedish seriousness.

The series will continue in Monday’s paper. I probably won’t see it, because I will have left Sweden by then -- unless a Swedish Facebook friend posts the next article on their Facebook page.

Posted on Aug 19, 2010 at 12:08 PM


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