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Don't overload your social network

It's hard to deny we sometimes pin our self-esteem to how many Facebook and online interactions we rack up in a day.
It's hard to deny we sometimes pin our self-esteem to how many Facebook and online interactions we rack up in a day.
  • We'll likely never get a clear-cut answer to how social networking affects social lives
  • Replacing a real friendship with a digital one is just kind of lame
  • If you find yourself trolling your ex's social-media presence, take a moment and reflect on why

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as an associate editor at and Bartz is news editor at Psychology Today. Got a question about etiquette in the digital world? Contact them at

(CNN) -- Your heart races like a rebel in a 1950s flick. Your eyes widen, an unbidden smile stealing across your slack-jawed face. Your soul threatens to leap from your throat and go tearing about the room, pinwheeling its translucent arms, screaming, "Wheeee!"

No, you're not in love, you're just super amped about all those shiny new followers on Twitter or glowing red notifications on your Facebook.

Such digital messages can act as a salve to counteract the ills of modern life. However, in some cases, when applied too frequently, that salve can be more irritating than soothing.

There's been much discussion in the Internet-verse about whether social networking ruins or strengthens human relationships. A Pew survey reports that Facebook users have closer friends and feel more socially supported. But a study published in the journal "Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking" suggests the Book of Face is a haven for narcissists.

Then last year, research showed that Facebook and whatnot trigger the release of oxytocin (the love chemical) in our brains.

Truth is, we'll probably never get a clear-cut answer to the what-is-social-networking-doing-to-our-social-lives question.

But it's hard to deny that, when we pin our self-esteem to how many online interactions we rack up in a day, we're just using social media as a hastily swallowed pill to feel better about our IRL social ties.

So stop wanly pinging into the abyss, doing everything in your power to draw out the replies and likes and retweets from your equally sallow-eyed e-friends.

Here are three cases in which you should just shut up already:

With friends you haven't seen in a while

"Hey Jimmy! I haven't seen you in weeeeeeeeks! Therefore, in between promises of coffee and drinks and backpacking trips to Iceland sent via Facebook message and Twitter DM, I'm just going to go ahead and comment on everything on your Facebook Page, wantonly 'Liking' every new snapshot that you take with your webcam, alone in your room, trying out each hairstyle on Twin Shadow's 'Haircut Tour' poster.

And, as those aforementioned promises never come to fruition, I'll merely become an annoyance, a possible reclusive pathological liar who has ample time to hang on Facebook but can't manage to scrape together two hours to see "Friends With Benefits," even though we both posted the trailer on our walls and clearly would love to see such a wholly original film starring the extremely talented Mila Kunis. Peace out."

We know you're busy, what with work and pottery lessons and spinning hot tracks in the "Dad Jams" room on, but replacing a real friendship with a digital one is just kind of lame.

If you really do enjoy the company of the person whose wall you're currently stalking, stop clicking "Like" and pick up the phone.

If the thought of actually hanging with said friend in person gives you the cold sweats, own up to the fact that you don't actually like this person and click "Hide user."

With exes

"Hey, Bob! I'm SO GLAD we decided to be friends after I told you that my heart was incapable of love. I'm also glad that we're still Facebook friends, Twitter buddies, pals and connections on LinkedIn!

That way I can constantly check up on you, leaving LOLs under all those funny DJing kittens videos you post, responding to tweets about how you're having a gloomy day with a spritely 'Cheer up, Buttercup!' jamming along to those new Ke$ha tracks you're scrobbling, and asking for a rec when I finally decide to 'make something of myself' and stop living off of my other ex-boyfriend.

Granted, I'm probably doing all of this because I'm, A) lonely, B) afraid of looking like the bad guy, and C) planning to text you this weekend when I'm drunk and really need a hookup. That's cool, right? Because we're friends now!"

Breakups are hard (so quoth the arbiters of "Obvious"), but they're rendered even more tough when you make yourself a digital ghost in your ex's life.

If you find yourself trolling your former hand-to-hold's social media presence, take a moment and reflect on why you're doing so. If it's one of the above reasons (according to the blog WTF Is Up With My Love Life, "C" is also known as "fertilizing," or sending someone a bunch of noncommittal digital nudges to keep him/her in your stable), step away from the laptop.

Your pixelated pokes are likely keeping your ex -- and you -- from moving on. If it's "D," or "Damn it, I made a mistake" -- well, all the little hearts on Instagram do not a redo make. Reach out. If you do really want to be friends, well, then, good luck.

With your family

Call your mother. She's earned the right to send those annoying GIF-crammed e-mails. You have not.


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