Social media updates the old John Donne poem noting "Don't ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." For centuries Donne's words have been used for elegant shorthand to describe mankind's interdependence. Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village" might have replaced it.
The good news is that, as Maureen O'Connor chronicles in NEW YORK Magazine, social media can tip us off on how the rest of mankind is faring. Recently, we were concerned how our friend who lost an adult child in an accident was holding it together. After the first few months, it becomes intrusive to simulate friendly communication to check on her. We found that her patterns of behavior on social media such as Facebook and Twitter clued us in. Accurately. When she wasn't active on social networks, we knew to become worried and plan a casual way to contact her and maybe swing by.
The not so good news is that those professionals not doing so hot in their careers also leave clues on social networks. An acquaintance was floundering in self-employment. Her entries on Facebook sounded forced rather than inspired. She lucked out. She was able to nail down a job and those demands restored her to providing content which resonates.
I always treated my blogging as a type of therapy. To me the power of words, along with the requisite graphics now, was the there-on-demand, low-cost (I pay Typepad a few bucks monthly), and liberating healer I hadn't found in traditional psychiatry.