July 20, 2010, 9:44 AM — This just out: Scientists have discovered the secret of Facebook's success, and it's love, sweet love.
According to a recent Fast Company article by Adam Penenberg, who underwent testing by Claremount Graduate University researcher Paul J. Zak (known around campus as "Dr. Love"), your brain gives off a great big spurt of oxytocin, aka "the cuddle chemical," whenever you make a social media connection like updating your status or accepting a friend request.
(Unless you're Rush Limbaugh, in which you get a nice spurt of oxycontin, aka "hillbilly heroin").
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Personally, I have never felt like hugging anyone after using Facebook, though I definitely felt the love when Heather Locklear accepted my friend request (TJ Hooker, sigh). And that, more than any other thing, may be the reason Facebook is now so friggin' huge. I mean the cuddle chemical bit, not Heather.
America Online AOL Aol. was the big kid on the block with 33 million members? This week Facebook will announce its 500 millionth member. Let that number sink in for a minute: 500 million.
That means better than one out of four Internet users, worldwide, has a Facebook account. If Facebook were its own country, it would rank third in population, behind India but well ahead of the US. If it were its own religion, it would outnumber Judaism, Shamanism, Scientology, Atheism, Animism, Zoroastrianism, and the Wicca, combined.
Also: if Facebook were its own religion, it would be ruled by a sweaty 26 year old pope wearing a hoody. I may have nightmares just thinking about that.