HOW TO NOT EMBARRASS YOURSELF ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I have often said I am SO glad there was no such thing as social media when I was a teenager. Oh, to just even imagine the craziness I would have been putting out into the world… I can’t even. But Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and thank heaven Snapchat were not things wayyyyy “back in the day” in the good old 90’s (dear ones… I am feeling old).
Now we have this beautiful little Facebook app called On This Day. You know it; every day you can see what you were sharing exactly one year ago, two years ago, and so on. Mostly I love to check it out to see pictures, videos, and status updates all about this crazy adorable little baby girl I used to know who is now a five year old mini teenager. Oh to hold that little snuggle bunny one more time!
Another untold feature of the On This Day app is that it allows the user to delete embarrassing posts of the past. Dear goodness… the things I used to share.
Now, I will admit to you that my most embarrassing moments have not been on social media. Nope. I seem to prefer to stick my big size 9.5 foot in my mouth face-to-face so I can see the disapproving expressions on peoples faces and die a thousand deaths right there in front of them. Or better yet, I tend to act a fool or say something awful but not realize it until later when it’s too late to make up an excuse.
Dear ones… I am a mess. I admit it. I’ve unintentionally said some things that I would do anything to erase. Pleeeeeeease tell me I’m not the only one! Help me here, friends!
Now that I seem to have disqualified myself from writing on this topic, I’m going to tell you how to not embarrass yourself on social media. Bless my heart.
THINKING BEFORE WE SPEAK (OR TYPE)
I remember being a little girl, maybe five years old, and I told a silly lie to a friend. The friend, at her wise old age of seven, knew I was fibbing and gave me a look of disapproval. I wanted to fall into the ground, I was so embarrassed. She said to me “Carissa, you need to learn to think before you speak.”
Think before I speak…
Those words rang through my head for years. How often we just react without thinking. To think before you speak requires you take a step back. It’s about pausing before acting.
Shauna Neiquist said something awesome on a podcast I was listening to yesterday (Jonocast episode 107). She said that she recommends her friends avoid oversharing by waiting a while before sharing anything personal on social media. Take some time to think it through before you click share. If you have any doubt, don’t share.
DON’T SHARE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK
I have often seen posts from my Facebook friends sharing something quite controversial, then they become upset when people comment.
Precious ones… don’t post things unless you’re willing to dialogue. When you post something on social media, you are starting a conversation. Maybe some will want to talk about the topic you’ve posted on, or maybe no one will. Either way, never post anything and then become upset when others disagree with you. (Side note: there will be those who find fault with pretty much everything, so you can’t completely avoid controversy)
Honestly, there are things I would love to share but I don’t because I know it will start an argument. The best practice is to not share controversial things, but here are some other tips:
- Create follower lists and only share certain content with certain friends.
- Do not reply to comments that are rude. Just ignore the trolls.
- Remember that you are not obligated to explain yourself to anyone. If you’ve shared something that is meaningful to you and someone expresses their disagreement, you do not need to respond.
- If you’ve shared something and it has unexpectedly become controversial, you can simply delete the post if you wish.
Remember: you do not need to attend every fight you’re invited to.
Friends, some things do not need to be shared with the world. Here are some examples of things that are fine and wonderful, but not on social media:
- You in your underwear
- Your child naked
- Your feet in the OBGYN stirrups
- Poop of any kind
- Your latest rash
- You in a string bikini (unless you aren’t concerned about future employers Facebook stalking you, which they obviously do)
Those are just a few things I’ve personally seen on social media over and over. Dear friends… be reasonable grown ups.
Now, here are some things that are NOT fine and wonderful and should also not be shared on social media:
- Pictures of extreme violence and gore (human or animal)
- Your broken bone sticking out of your arm
- Vomit or poop (this needed to be mentioned twice)
I know it seems like these things should be obvious, but apparently they’re not. I once had a Facebook friend share pictures the body of a young child beheaded by ISIS. Then she was angry with me (and thankfully unfriended me) when I protested her post. Seriously… you cannot make this stuff up.
Are you unsure if a post would be too much? When in doubt, don’t share. You shall not die from lack of social media posting… I’m pretty sure.
Girlfriend Tip: think twice about sharing your super sexy boudoir pics. I mean, unless you never have to worry about future employment opportunities. #RealTalk #ThingsYourFriendsAreTooAfraidToSayToYou #LongHashtagsRock
JUST SAY NO… TO A FACEBOOK ARGUMENT
“Wow, thank you for pointing out how wrong I am. I have now changed my opinion entirely” … said no one ever.
Okay, I may be overreaching. In fact, my opinion on certain matters has changed a bit after conversations on social media. The key word there was conversations.
Almost no one will be impacted for the good from a Facebook debate. Period.
Now, avoiding a Facebook battle starts with you. It means not posting something inflammatory in the first place. But it also means you have to hold your breath and scroll past an opportunity to educate someone.
It’s tough… it really is.
It’s not easy, but I have scrolled past posts of friends sharing incredibly biased posts that make my skin crawl. I avoid entering debates because I know it’s not my job to educate people.
Okay fine… I intentionally fail at this from time to time. We can’t all be perfect, right?!
HOW WILL MY POST AFFECT OTHERS?
Before you share a post that involves another person, stop and think twice. How would your child feel about you sharing the story of him discovering his boy parts? How would your husband feel if you post about a fight you’re having? Could your company be harmed by your Facebook rant? Will your friend be embarrassed by the unflattering picture you’re about to post? How will that local restaurant be impacted by your one, two, or three star rating just because you didn’t like the one meal you tried on one occasion?
As we think about what we are sharing in order to avoid our own embarrassment, it’s best practice (not to mention mature) to not accidentally, or God-forbid intentionally shame anyone else.
So many things that I’ve said that made me want to crawl under a rock were things that were hurtful to someone else. Pausing to think before sharing can help you avoid this situation.
HOW WILL MY POST AFFECT ME?
I have so many thoughts about the current political situation in which my country finds itself. Sooooo many thoughts. I’m not one who thinks people with strong opinions on politics should just be quiet. I support free speech, the right to protest, and I do very much believe that there are things that happen in the world that we MUST speak out against. However, I do so very judiciously on social media.
I realize that what I share affects my work. It also affects my husbands work. It doesn’t always feel fair. I do wish I could be more free to speak my mind on topics of social justice, politics, and even my faith. But wisdom rules my actions when it comes to polarizing social media posts.
CHECK YOUR SOURCE
Check before you share! The kitten video may be cute, but maybe less cute when it comes from a page called “Your Mama #@$&!@”
SUCH A SHOW OFF
Let’s be honest, some of the most embarrassing moments I’ve had have been when I’ve been trying to be smart to show how awesome I am… or how hilariously funny I am. When you’re showing off, it’s always going to go sideways for you.
Pro-Tip: When you’re trying to be cool and impress your friends on social media, you probably will just make a fool of yourself.
As I’ve already admitted, I’ve said some dumb things in my life. Some of those dumb things have unfortunately been very public on social media. Instead of crawling under the nearest rug, own your crap my friends. You said something hurtful? You posted something embarrassing? You way overshared? Own it.
Apologize. Delete. Retract. Then move on.
If you’ve accidentally made a fool of yourself, you can’t change it. So just own it and fix your mess as best you can.
Friends, we all embarrass ourselves on social media (except for those who are not on social media and prefer to stick to embarrassing themselves in person). Don’t beat yourself up. Just do your best to right the wrong and then move on. This may sound really simple and basic, but I find that letting go and even forgiving myself is the hardest part.