I was prepared for the ridiculous time suck of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, LinkedIn, and all the others. What I wasn’t prepared for was how to deal with the awkward social issues that I’ve encountered. Here are four of my most awkward social media moments.
1. My own teenage son de-friended me on Facebook when he was mad at me a few months ago. No one else I know seems to have been de-friended by their older kids. All my real-life friends post photos of their kids or talk about them while tagging them in posts. And every time I click “like” for someone else’s kid’s cute homecoming photo or debate win, I am reminded that I can’t “like” anything about my own kid. When I lamented my non-friend status to another parent recently, she said, “That would not fly in my house. My kids have to be friends with me.” So now, not only am I not virtual “friends” with my son, I’m also a bad parent.
2. I am normally a very polite person. So I’m a little confused about how to handle new twitter followers or blog followers that I have a feeling are spam. Do I thank them for following me? Do I not accept their follow or should I always accept them because it’s always good to have more followers? And then, do I always have an obligation to follow them back, because what if they’re not spam? And if someone private messages me on Twitter with a thank you for following them but also asks me to follow their blog/Facebook or whatever, is it proper etiquette to respond back even if I’m not interested in their blog or Facebook page? Does anyone care about etiquette on social media or is it all about followers?
3. The other day someone I haven’t spoken to in 35 years posted a photo of my second grade class and friended me on Facebook. I remembered him as a nice kid and accepted his request, briefly noting the irony of being “friends” with a second grade classmate I haven’t seen in 35 years and not my own son, but whatever. So then, all these former classmates in the photo weighed in on who was in the photo and talked about how hot the teacher was (the guys, anyway). Feeling all warm and nostalgic, I commented about how I remembered that the teacher ate peanuts from the shell all day long, her manicured nails clicking together and cracking the shells, which distracted me while I looked up lengthy lists of second-grade words in the dictionary. Just like that, the thread ended. I felt like I had just stood in a crowd of people and contributed something weird to the conversation and they were all silently staring at me.
4. A few years ago I tried to arrange my Facebook contacts into groups, thinking that I might post more if I was only posting writing related information to people who were actually writers, and family stuff to just family. Unfortunately, I ended up starting an official “group” and unwittingly sent emails to all my contacts inviting them to be members of this great new group I started. Then the messages started pouring in. People were wondering why I started a group and what my plans were for it. I wanted to crawl under a virtual rock. I had to message everyone to ignore the group request and explain that I was just trying to organize my contacts. Major Fail.
Sometimes I just want to get off social media and get back to the real world, where I can see people’s reactions in person. Is anyone else experiencing awkward moments on social media? Let’s meet for coffee in person to commiserate.