Imagine that you are at a gathering with everybody you’ve ever met, from your niece to your high school guidance counselor. Now imagine that you’ve got a bullhorn in to which you can broadcast every thought you have the second it jumps into your brain. (And so can everyone else.)

That’s pretty much the world of social networking, which brings countless opportunities to connect with others and to irritate them beyond belief.

The Stats

  • 49 percent spend at least hours a week on social-media sites.
  • 59 percent use social media for both personal and professional reasons.
  • 49 percent have over 300 Facebook friends.

What to ask yourself before that next post.

  1. Am I trying to make up for something I’m not getting in actual life?

  2. Am I sharing? No? Then reconsider. Psychologist Larry S. Rosen, the author of the upcoming book iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Expertise and Overcoming Its Hold on Us ($25, amazon.com), recommends an e-waiting period before posting. Write it, and then leave it for a few minutes. Think of this line from The Social Network: The Internet is not written in pencil. It’s written in ink.

  3. Would I tell Jerry Springer on National TV? If you wouldn’t’ feel comfortable sharing it on national television, you certainly shouldn’t be sharing it online. Remember that the Internet has a larger audience than any show, or nation for that matter.

A Note on Vulgarity

It bears repeating: If it’s not something you would say on national TV, the best strategy is not to post it.

The Facebook Break-Up

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your virtual social circle, there’s nothing wrong with pruning your friends list. In fact, some have theorized that the human brain isn’t wired to keep up with over 200 connections at a time.

My Facebook, Myself

Although 91 percent of respondents said that social media made them feel more connected, only 29 percent said that it made them happier. Plenty of admitted to having self-destructive habits, like gawking at people from the past (83 percent) and comparing themselves to others (76 percent).

With that stated enjoy Facebook. Connecting with friends and family can be extremely satisfying and a delight. Just keep in mind that while you may be communicating with just a small group of friends, everything you post or display on Facebook is public. Have fun and stay safe!