Why grouse about the government spying on you and your PC when everyone seems so eager to freely share all of life’s trivial tidbits online anyway? For example, while you can post to Facebook while you’re sitting in the doctor’s office, it is illegal for the doctor to do so. Don’t let that stop you!

Of all the social networking sites, Facebook is the king. It’s the most popular place online where you can connect with friends, share your thoughts, send messages, post photographs and videos, play games, take quizzes, waste time, and generally keep up-to-date. That’s it. One-stop everything.

If you haven’t yet joined the Facebook craze, visit the main Facebook page. Enter the required information, which includes an email address. You have to confirm your email address, which completes the sign-up process. Find some friends and then get ready to share your life — or not. Plenty of people just visit Facebook to see what their friends are up to.

Another quite popular social networking website is Twitter. On Twitter, you share your thoughts with others and follow their thoughts as well, where a “thought” is composed of 140 or fewer characters of text. Those little bursts of text are Tweets.

Visit Twitter to sign up. Configure your profile, and then you probably want to use the email scanning tool that Twitter provides to help you quickly locate some Twitter friends.

Use Twitter to watch or follow others, to gather useful information on news or events, or just keep tabs on your buddies. In addition to being a harmless distraction, many people rely upon Twitter for news because various news organizations Tweet as well.

If you find yourself using Facebook and Twitter without participating, also consider some other websites for fun diversion.

  • Reddit is considered the front page of the Internet. It lists stories, photos, links to videos, and other items organized by category. Odds are good that if your friends are sharing something on Facebook or Twitter, it started out on Reddit.

  • 9gag is a site pretty much devoted to silly images and animations. Some of them are impressive, some are funny, many are clever. It’s a nice mix of diversions.

  • Pinterest thinks of itself as a catalog of ideas more than a social networking site. Its focus is on images or “pins” created by regular people. You can share your own photos, follow other people’s boards, and generally waste time.

New social websites appear all the time and everyone has their favorites. This small sampling should help get you started.

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Dan Gookin is a gizmo geek who's been writing about technology for over 25 years. In 1991, his DOS For Dummies became the world's fastest-selling computer book and launched the For Dummies series. Dan's 130+ books have been translated into more than 30 languages. Visit his website at www.wambooli.com.

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