THE BLOG
03/14/2012 05:34 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2012

Facebook Is Not Your Diary

You've abandoned your day to the vultures. Everything's rotten. A Murphy's Law day. A day for which the Men in Black memory-wiping neuralizer really should exist. Nobody died, but after arriving at this conclusion, you fail to find another positive observation.

Think, you think.

Didn't I get a break on any assignment? Didn't I find a meter with 10 minutes in it? Didn't anyone smile to me on campus? Surely I missed it. Something must have happened today to make me feel special. I'm not thinking hard enough.

Fleetingly, you wish someone had died. At least then you could leverage some empathy into your life.

How horrible, you think. A guillotine-worthy thought. Where are those vultures, anyway?

You want a hug. But you'll settle for a "((hug))," a "::hug::" or a "~hug~." So you hop on Facebook, spill your guts and ask for one.

And why not? With the right settings, a stranger can't access your posts. Future employers will never see your range of emotions. Your friends will certainly add in the missing intonations, punctuations, and body gestures you would've included in-person. This teensy little post will soon lie buried, like today, beneath piles of newer items anyway. Besides, if all this fails you could delete it.

So post. What's the worst that could happen?

Well...

Let's look past software that can track anything you can do on a computer, because most college students don't live with parents who can access their computers. Let's also look past companies starting to demand access to your private Facebook account. Let's look past colleges that do the same, too.

Let's look past the FBI-sanctioned call for software that can monitor your social-media activity. Let's look past your peers, who could -- with the right dedication and computer training -- crack your Facebook account. Finally let's look past the silly suggestion you'd use a work or campus phone or computer to update your status. Because that would be stupid, akin to inviting espionage.

Assuming your Facebook is still private, triple-think your posts anyway. Grab coffee before hitting enter, do the dishes or call your folks, who might not have heard from you in weeks anyway. At the very least, take 10 minutes to pour your anguish into a diary before spewing it online.

When George Washington left office, he warned the country in his farewell address against a handful of things: failing to protect the Union, political parties, war -- and people who use passion to suck the life out of others. If you remember from history class, Washington meant demagogues, who threatened to sacrifice the country's long-term well-being by exploiting ephemeral emotions. Washington was warning against passion-driven actions.

You're not running a country, but you want a job, right? You want intelligent friends who consider you also intelligent? Then must you really post that status right now? Is your long-term going to be better off for it?

More importantly, could it be worse?

On Facebook and in general, my role models barely give glimpses into their busy schedules, family challenges, financial tethers or other burdens. As National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore writes on his website, "When the going gets tough, being able to see beyond the current crisis is a valuable skill." The friends whom I admire spend their precious Facebook words on giving people something. If they ask their Facebook friends for cyber-hugs, they get them because they haven't been asking seemingly daily. Furthermore, they're posting daily despite not asking for anything, meaning they can afford to give people quality posts often despite the burdens of quotidian existence.

What you write online is as permanent as what you write on paper. My 10-year-old niece got into trouble once for typing, "LMFAO," in an email. She didn't know its non-acronym meaning or connotations, just as I hadn't known the meaning of "SCUBA" at her age. But her email didn't show me her innocent 10-year-old eyes. She couldn't control what I read into those five letters, which seemed to say my niece was a BAMF 10-year-old who didn't care WTF anyone thought about her LHFAO. In reality, she wound up learning at 10 what I'd learned at 20: Your posts can speak beyond what you want them to say.

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