Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger Internet users are more likely to regret some dumb-ass thing they did online, with 24% of users under the age of 45 saying they had "engaged in regrettable actions," compared to just 13% of poll respondents ages 45+. Interestingly, men are more likely than women to regret some part of their online past (21% for men versus 15% for women).
The really remarkable findings, however, reveal widespread reservations about social media's impact on personal life. Fully 51% of adults surveyed by Marist said they think that social media does more harm than good when it comes to personal relationships, compared to 29% who think the overall effect is positive (20% are unsure). On this point men and women were in perfect agreement, with 51% of respondents of both genders saying social media does more harm than good.
All of which begs the question: why do people use social media then? My guess is idle curiosity, leading to endless profile surfing and the casual (or more serious) flirtation, which sometimes results. I also think people who subconsciously want out of their current relationships may use social media to precipitate the crises that force their partners to dump them; this way they get what they want without having to take responsibility or admit their lack of commitment.
As for genuine regrets, all I can say is it's actually pretty easy to avoid doing something stupid online. Here are some good guidelines: 1) no naked pictures or lewd talk; 2) no pictures or discussion of illegal activity; 3) no offensive language, e.g. racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.; 4) no posting or sending anything while under the influence. Anyone have any other rules that we should add to this list?