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Hi. My name is L’Oreal Thompson and I’m a Facebook addict. As I’m writing this, it has been seven days, 10 hours and 13 minutes since I gave up the social networking site for Lent.

But who’s counting?

The idea came from my friend and coworker, Rachel, who suggested, during a discussion about Lent, that I part with Facebook. At first, I didn’t think I could do it and laughed at the concept. But then I thought, I managed to survive 17 years before Facebook existed, so what’s 40 days?

On average, I’d say I’d spend about 60 to 90 minutes on Facebook throughout the day checking my friends’ profiles and their pictures.

Yes, an hour and a half may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to my friends who change their profile status every five minutes and have Facebook connected to their Blackberry phones to receive instantaneous updates.

Like chocolate and wine, Facebook is best enjoyed in moderation.

At the height of my Facebook addiction, I’d think of my life in terms of a profile status: L’Oreal is going to the Beyoncé concert. L’Oreal is cardio kickboxing at the gym. L’Oreal is missing her college roommates, affectionately known as “The Dream Team.”

Here’s what I’ve learned: when you start referring to yourself in the third person, you have a problem.

You can judge me if you want. But I’m willing to bet this can happen to anybody if you’re not careful.

One day, you’re logging into Facebook to check a couple of messages and 30 minutes later, you’re left wondering what you just did with your life.

By my very nature, I am a people person and I’m also very nosy, which is probably part of the reason I’m a reporter.

Anyway, put those two qualities together and you can understand why I love Facebook: I know what’s going on with everyone’s lives at all times.

Because of Facebook, I know one of my high school classmates is having a baby. I know my college cheerleading captain is launching a maternity clothing line. And I know my BFF (best friend forever) from middle school is getting married next year because I looked at her engagement pictures.

But I don’t actually talk to any of those girls in real life. Of my 733 Facebook “friends,” I only keep in touch with about 10 of them on a regular basis in the real world.

So I started thinking, it’s time to reclaim a part of my life. After all, I control my Facebook experience, Facebook doesn’t control me, right? We’ll see.

I used to turn to Facebook when I was bored, but now I find better uses for my free time. So far I’ve managed to cross multiple books and movies off my “must-read-must-watch” list (thank you very much, Harford County Public Library).

I’ve also talked to one of my friends who lives in Chicago on the phone and not online. In a short amount of time, I’ve noticed I’ve become more productive and my relationships have become more substantial.

While Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends, it should not be the only method of communication. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d much prefer an actual phone call or even an e-mail from my friends who count.

A week into my Lenten sacrifice/social experiment, I’m doing just fine. Instead of letting everyone else know what I’m doing, want to do or am about to do, I’m just doing it. I haven’t had any serious withdrawals and I’m actually enjoying this newfound sense of freedom.

When I reactivate my Facebook account on Easter Sunday, I will no longer be an addict and I won’t waste time filling my head with useless information about ex-classmates and acquaintances ... I hope.

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