Have you ever stopped to wonder how much wasting time on Facebook costs? For one thing, there's the psychological price; research consistently indicates that spending too much time on social media is associated with some pretty negative effects, depending on how you use it. But this is America — why talk about feelings when you can look at social media's effect in terms of cold, hard cash? NBC News recently calculated the literal cost of all the time we spend idly scrolling through baby pictures and engagement photos, and the sheer magnitude of the price is almost enough to make you want to focus at work. Almost.
NBC based their calculations on the number of monthly Facebook users (1.6 billion) and the company's 2012 IPO filings, which reported that users spend an aggregate total of 10.5 billion minutes on the social media website daily. If users earned minimum wage ($7.25) for every hour they spent on Facebook, NBC reports that it would have totaled $900 billion in last year alone, and it's cost more than $3 trillion in hypothetical labor since Facebook surpassed 100 million users in 2008. NBC also noted that the world has spent 55 million years on Facebook overall since 2009, just to make you feel that much worse about all the time you've wasted online.
It should be noted that these calculations are based on the assumption that we're on Facebook when we should be working, which isn't always the case. Sometimes you just feel like getting into a heated political debate with your childhood BFF's uncle in the comments section of a Ryan Reynolds fan page on your own time. However, people spend an estimated 20 minutes a day on Facebook (although people in the United States actually spend more than that), and Business Insider reports that the site accounts for nearly 20 percent of all online traffic. In short, we might not always be procrastinating when we're on Facebook, but it's a fair assumption that we're supposed to be doing something else at least some of the time.
On the other hand, the argument could be made that it's not Facebook causing the distraction — people have been finding inventive ways to goof off at work since the dawn of time, and it's well-known that taking breaks makes you more productive. As long as you stay on top of things, don't beat yourself up if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook a few times a day. Chances are millions of other people are doing it too.
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