The mirror and the periscope
A long time ago, real estate developers figured out that one way to save a lot of money was to put a mirror in the lobby next to the elevator banks. People would happily look at themselves in the mirror while patiently waiting for the elevator… meaning that the developers could get by with one fewer (expensive) elevator.
If we want to, we can turn social media (and our day) into a giant mirror. "I wonder what they think of me?" "I wonder what their reaction was to what we just shipped?" "I wonder if they've figured out I'm a fraud?" We hide this mirror gazing under the guise of customer research, but particularly for soloists, artists and anyone who puts her name on her work, what an opportunity to waste time and energy checking out what the online world tells us about our role in the universe.
On the other hand, social networks now give us a better opportunity than ever to find out how other people are doing. "I wonder if Trish is happy?" "I hope that those protesters have enough blankets." "Are our children learning?"
It's human nature to care how the tribe (and strangers) think about us. It's more important, though, to wonder how they feel about themselves.