5 Ways to Avoid Embarrassing Moments on Social Media

This past weekend I had some friends over. We watched some TV, drank some wine, and then something strange happened.5 Ways to Avoid Embarrassing Moments on Social Media

The conversation tapered off… I looked around, and everyone had pulled out their smart device of choice and was checking Facebook. The conversation started again when everyone realized that one mutual friend, in particular, had posted some nonsense that was part insight, part proverb, but mostly annoying.

We all agreed that this friend needed to stop posting inanities or he would be hidden, or worse, defriended. This of course led to a discussion of a new form of etiquette, “social media etiquette,” and some of the stuff was so good, I had to get out a pen and paper and start on this post. Here are 5 ways to avoid social awkwardness and having those embarrassing moments on social media.

1. The Comment vs. the Like

One of my friends gave this amusing anecdote. His friend posted “What’s Worse than burnt toast?”

to which my friend replied:

“No toast at all?”

Innocent enough, but what he failed to predict was that, for the rest of the day, his phone was going to be pinging with push notifications about burnt toast, and what is really worse than burnt toast (no butter was a suggestion).

Use the “Like” button

If you want to contribute to a conversation, but don’t want to be inundated with everyone’s comments pushing to your smartphone, consider the simple “like.” Perfect for announcements of an engagement or a photo of someone’s newborn baby.

Socially Awkward:

You like that someone’s grandmother has died. Also, liking your own status.

2. Unfriend or Filter?

The person who was posting inanities that seem to only be interesting in a group setting with plenty of wine is at risk of being filtered, but no one was willing to unfriend…

Socially Awkward:

Unfriending as a form of hiding from your newsfeed. Unfriending is really insulting. It’s not as simple as “I don’t care about what they have to say, I’ll just unfriend them.” If you want to be able to look that person in the eye at work, or in your social life, you are much better off just filtering them out of your home timeline, put them on a limited view, a restricted list. Unfriending should be saved as a last resort.

3. The Wink ; )

I had a friend on Facebook for whom we had to stage a “Facebook Intervention” because she could not get the hang of the smile vs the wink. She would post “just had a quiet dinner at home with my boyfriend. ;)” or “On my way to work ;)”

Socially Awkward:

Inappropriate winking. The wink is reserved for a “tongue in cheek” implication. If you just want to add some cheer to your posts or your tweets, use a smile :).

4. Hashtags on Facebook

Hashtags don’t link on Facebook. They work on Twitter and Instagram, but not on Facebook.

Socially Awkward: 

Hashtagging on Facebook. If you post to your Facebook page with a hashtag, know that it’s just going to look like a tic-tac-toe symbol to your friends and fans, and those unfamiliar with Twitter may not even understand what it is.

5. Social Philosopher

Some people us social media as their way to abstractly comment on their lives and the world. I’m sure everyone reading this article has at least one friend or is following someone who fits in this category. This is an actual post by someone on Facebook:

Social Philosopher

Socially Awkward:

“Too much information” posts. Being dark and deep is fine, but broadcasting it stream of conscious style to your fans or followers? That’s a little awkward. What are your friends supposed to say to that? Are you even expecting a response? Would “liking” it be appropriate? What about a retweet? Social media has taken down barriers for sure, but think long and hard about how much you want to voluntarily share with people!

So, are you Socially Awkward?

There are users of social media at different stages of development. Social awkwardness could be likened to the teenager stage of life.

We are all still learning! But do any of the above apply to you? Do you know someone who suffers from social awkardness?

Please share any interesting (or funny) socially awkward experiences you’ve had – just comment!

 

Guest Author : Tammy Kahn Fennell is the CEO of MarketMeSuite, the social media marketing dashboard.You can connect with her on Twitter @Tammykfennell

 

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Comments

  • http://www.alittleunhinged.com/ Bonnie Franks

    Love the Socially awkward additives! I’m so sharing this to facebook, personal and fan pages. :) <—–Did I use it correctly?

    • Tammy Kahn Fennell

      Ha! Yes, i think you used it correctly! Please share everywhere you can! :)

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    I totally agree. My etiquette with smart phones is that they are on silent and are not used or viewed over a dinner!

    • Tammy Kahn Fennell

      Agreed. We try to enforce a “no tech at the table” rule. Works most of the time…

  • http://www.facebook.com/777productions Deon Fialkov

    I was waiting for someone to cover this topic … sometimes people are so addicted to social-media that they don’t know when to log off or disconnect…sometimes I fight the urge to check my platforms as everyone seems to update their platforms regarding their latest life development anyway…

    • Tammy Kahn Fennell

      I don’t mind people talking about life developments — i think that’s part of what makes social networking useful. When I lived in England it was a super way to keep my parents in NY updated as to what I was doing “heading into Norwich” etc etc. And yes, I have to admit to a little “Facestalking” myself, to keep up to date with what’s happening in the social world of my friends. But I’m picking on the philosophers, the ranters, the ones who perhaps use social media to emphasize a degree of self importance. I guess what i’m saying is, if you wouldn’t say it out loud to me, don’t write it on facebook.

      Thanks so much for reading!

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Tammy,

    Interesting points. Here’s my take: some pour out their souls on social sites, desperate for someone to listen.

    Is this appropriate? Who knows. I do know most people feel uber uncomfortable saying these type of things – esp the last example – person to person, so the web is a bit of an easier out.

    That being said, is the person expressing the viewpoint, awkward? Or is it the friend/viewer who has the issue, unable to digest these moments with a compassionate eye? The confident, assured, listener sees or feels few awkward moments, because their perception is not skewed. Either way, makes for an interesting debate.

    Honest to goodness, as long as the rant isn’t overly negative, I have no issues with it. I can see many people who post stuff like the last post are crying out, and as a friend, and as someone who’s experienced some dark, deep days, I am there to listen. Now I wouldn’t share it on a FB status update, but don’t judge people who do, because I know why they are doing it, because I have been there….and would have done the same thing, but I was a bit more social savvy.

    Thanks for delving into a really neat topic Tammy. Have an awesome day.

    Ryan

    • Tammy Kahn Fennell

      Thanks Ryan. Perhaps I was a little too hard on this friend, but I’m glad you get the gist of my point — it’s not that deep philosophical talk offends people, but do you really always want them to know your innermost thoughts (although it could be argued that “what i had for breakfast” is more annoying!)

      Thanks for reading!

      • http://twitter.com/markdavidson Mark Davidson

        Life *is* so damn weird. Particularly since sharing those inner-most thoughts is what drove weblogs in the first place. It drives a great deal of writing today.

        Sharing inner-most thoughts is in many ways what writing is about. Particularly if we can draw people into our world and they can relate to or see a bit of themselves in our words.

        Should Facebook posts be superficial? Particularly words and thoughts shared among friends?

        Are we talking about using social media as a marketing vehicle or are we talking about personal accounts? What’s this drive to create boring but polite posts? Are we writing as writers or are we writing as personalities?

        I’m pretty smart but I’m not getting the point here. What outcome is your advice supposed to produce? Is this sorta like high school? I want to be the popular kid that everyone likes? That’s what these tools are for? They’re not about interacting with others? Sharing thoughts that are sometimes personal? I’m supposed to feel shame or embarrassment because someone else is uncomfortable with my thoughts?

        What exactly is the point of social media or weblogs?

        I write this as I ponder Ze Frank’s An Invocation for Beginnings.

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=RYlCVwxoL_g&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRYlCVwxoL_g

        TMI?

        For those of us who can and do write, soar. Not everyone will get you. Some will probably think you’re weird. Don’t be boring. Carve a path that is uniquely your own. Kafka was weird. He was also brilliant. If you can, be like Kafka if that is your calling.

        Don’t let others decide for you that you are socially awkward based on rules that they’ve not only created for themselves but seem to also be creating for others around them.

        Don’t worry about being “socially awkward”. If your Facebook friends don’t get you or they are preoccupied with how your innermost thoughts personally affect them, they aren’t your friends.

        1: Make people feel good. Stir some emotions. Be a catalyst for conversation. Spark an idea. Be interesting. It’s a people business. Be human.

        2: Write fearlessly, bleed on paper, post with fire. Don’t just write about what you know; write about your experience and write with feeling.

        My current favorite awkward over-sharer:

        http://www.xojane.com/relationships/how-to-make-sense-of-internet-commenters-and-being-the-girl-you-love-to-hate

        Living your life based on external validation is the quickest path I know to unhappiness. Hell, break some rules. Popularity doesn’t always equal awesome. Awesome equals awesome. Be awesome. Just don’t be boring.

      • http://twitter.com/markdavidson Mark Davidson

        Life *is* so damn weird. Particularly since sharing those inner-most thoughts is what drove weblogs in the first place. It drives a great deal of writing today.

        Sharing inner-most thoughts is in many ways what writing is about. Particularly if we can draw people into our world and they can relate to or see a bit of themselves in our words.

        Should Facebook posts be superficial? Particularly words and thoughts shared among friends?

        Are we talking about using social media as a marketing vehicle or are we talking about personal accounts? What’s this drive to create boring but polite posts? Are we writing as writers or are we writing as personalities?

        I’m pretty smart but I’m not getting the point here. What outcome is your advice supposed to produce? Is this sorta like high school? I want to be the popular kid that everyone likes? That’s what these tools are for? They’re not about interacting with others? Sharing thoughts that are sometimes personal? I’m supposed to feel shame or embarrassment because someone else is uncomfortable with my thoughts?

        What exactly is the point of social media or weblogs?

        I write this as I ponder Ze Frank’s An Invocation for Beginnings.

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=RYlCVwxoL_g&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRYlCVwxoL_g

        TMI?

        For those of us who can and do write, soar. Not everyone will get you. Some will probably think you’re weird. Don’t be boring. Carve a path that is uniquely your own. Kafka was weird. He was also brilliant. If you can, be like Kafka if that is your calling.

        Don’t let others decide for you that you are socially awkward based on rules that they’ve not only created for themselves but seem to also be creating for others around them.

        Don’t worry about being “socially awkward”. If your Facebook friends don’t get you or they are preoccupied with how your innermost thoughts personally affect them, they aren’t your friends.

        1: Make people feel good. Stir some emotions. Be a catalyst for conversation. Spark an idea. Be interesting. It’s a people business. Be human.

        2: Write fearlessly, bleed on paper, post with fire. Don’t just write about what you know; write about your experience and write with feeling.

        My current favorite awkward over-sharer:

        http://www.xojane.com/relationships/how-to-make-sense-of-internet-commenters-and-being-the-girl-you-love-to-hate

        Living your life based on external validation is the quickest path I know to unhappiness. Hell, break some rules. Popularity doesn’t always equal awesome. Awesome equals awesome. Be awesome. Just don’t be boring.

  • http://twitter.com/RoaringPajamas Roaring Pajamas

    Excellent post, Jeff! Thank you so much!

    Question: Do you think it’s “socially awkward” that at some point, “The conversation tapered off… I looked around, and everyone had pulled
    out their smart device of choice and was checking Facebook?”

    I’m seeing more groups of people sitting at tables in restaurants, meetings, cafes, on the street – wherever – looking at their mobiles instead of each other. One of my colleagues and her friends instituted the “mobile stack” where they stack their phones during dinner. The first one to pull their phone buys a round of drinks.

    I think that’s a great idea!

    • Phil

      Oh! Excellent idea coz it’s really antisocial to be facebooking when you are chilling with yr friends

    • Tammy Kahn Fennell

      Glad you liked it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidwwatts David Watts

    Useful post, thanks!
    Re #2, Facebook offers an “Unfollow” link that will stop those excessive pings when everyone else leaves a comment
    Re #4, I’ve noticed that some people are using hashtags not as in the Twitter sense, but in the thought bubble sense – like a comment in a comment. For example #ridiculous or #whatwasIthinking or #totalspacecadet

  • Katie

    This is great! I think everyone should adhere to these rules. People should also not update their statues every 10 minutes. No one really cares how many loads of laundry they did.

  • azchipka

    For number 1 I’ve gotten so tired of Facebook push notifications I’ve just turned them off completely.

  • http://www.indieswebs.com/ Stan Dorman

    Hi Tammy,

    Great post!

    Regarding ‘Social philosopher’ point, personally I don’t see
    any harm in posting stuff like that. The only thing which needs to be taken
    care of is that the status updater should share the status with limited number
    of people whom he knows well and are in a position to comment on his status.

    Once again, thanks for writing a topic which needs some
    serious consideration.

  • http://socialwebtools.info/ Charnita Fance

    I love #4……. funny thing is that I’ve seen people that aren’t even on Twitter use hashtags on Facebook. I guess it’s just because they’ve seen others doing it.