What to ask yourself before that next post.
1. Am I trying to make up for something I’m not getting in real life?
Posting or tweeting to 400 “friends” just isn’t the same as venting to our nearest and dearest. “Online it’s easier to interpret things as we wish them to be and avoid the subjects we want to avoid,” says Sherry Turkle, a professor of the social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other ($29, amazon.com). In tough times, you need a supportive friend who can offer real advice. Even (maybe especially) advice that you would rather not hear.
2. Am I really sharing?
Pretend that you’re writing a letter to a friend. Doesn’t she deserve more than “TPS reports, blergh”? And you wouldn’t berate her for not being “brave” enough to share her bra size for breast cancer research. (If you truly care about an issue, “like” an organization that supports it on Facebook.)
3. Would I tell Matt Lauer on Today?
No? Then reconsider. Psychologist Larry S. Rosen, the author of the upcoming book iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us ($25, amazon.com), recommends an “e-waiting period” before posting. Write it, then leave it for five minutes. Think of this line from The Social Network: “The Internet’s not written in pencil.… It’s written in ink.”