Awkward Social Media Moments

This is a photo of my iPad with all the social media app icons.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.

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17 thoughts on “Awkward Social Media Moments

  1. I hate when people follow me, and then get spammy about it! Like, follow me because you are interested not because you want me to follow you back. SMH. I usually delete blog comments where people are more interested in promoting themselves than commenting on what I’ve said.

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  2. My brother-in-law unfriended me & all 3 offspring when I private messaged him and told him that it made me uncomfortable (and request that he please not do it again) that he had shared my 14 year old (at the time) offspring3’s entire (200 photos) photo album from homecoming week on his wall without even asking offpring3 if it was OK. We don’t live in the same town, have no friends in common. We still do not really speak.

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  3. Yeah, I had trouble navigating blogging etiquette early on, but after the–I dunno–twentieth time I checked out a friendly “follower’s” blog and discovered he/she was a life coach or a financial wizard who wanted to fix me, I stopped thanking and certainly never reciprocated with a follow. I figure there’s a miniscule chance I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t remotely interested in my blog. In fact, I suspect they get carpal tunnel from clicking follow in hopes of getting a bite. I’m actually a very un-cynical person, but not on this point. Anyhow, I do feel your pain. Peace, John

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  4. I don’t think there’s any need to follow people just because they follow you. I think honesty is a form of respect, and I don’t engage with people online unless I really feel we’re a good match in some way.

    Also, I am friends with my mother on Facebook now, but I definitely wasn’t in college. And… it was much better that way. My two cents!

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  5. Not to be excessively preachy, but this sort of thing is one of the reasons I left Facebook about four years ago. Those wishing to bump up their blog stats face considerable pressure to push their posts through social media. So far, I have resisted returning to Facebook for this purpose. I listed my Twitter handle on ONE blog post (because the post was about Twitter), but not sure if I will do that again (my password was promptly hacked).

    Another major reason I left Facebook is that some of the younger members of my extended family, all of whom I love dearly, were posting racist and sexist comments that were making me sick. Some say I am sticking my head in the sand, and perhaps this is so. Those involved know how I feel about this and continue on their merry way nonetheless. It is important to remember that we cannot control what others do, but we can control how we react to it and we do have the ability to choose good influences and reject bad ones. I refuse to allow filth and hatred into my life, even when a family member is involved. My wife, who is old enough to know better, remains on Facebook and is forever involved in the friend/unfriend game. That is her prerogative, and she knows how I feel about it.

    I so much agree with you about needing to spend time offline. I am starting to find that the online/offline dichotomy has shrunk to the size of a pea. For example, I may be playing with my little grandniece, but I am usually within arm’s reach of my laptop and phone. For another example, I may be out to lunch with family when I feel a buzz in my pocket and I go ahead and moderate comments on the spot.

    To address your concerns about “followers,” I try to keep things in perspective. Yes, it’s nice to have readership, and I certainly say “yippee” when WordPress notifies me about a follow. However, I rely on the love of my family, not the love of my readers. Only a money-hungry televangelist or a cult leader needs followers at all costs. My current practice is: If you leave a comment on my blog, I will have the decency to respond. If you “like” my post, I will take a look at your blog, although I do not feel obligated to “like” a post back (but I often do when I discover wonderful writing in this way). If you “follow” me, I most definitely do NOT feel any obligation whatever to follow you back. If I notice anything about “make money blogging” in your recent posts, I will never look at your blog again, much less follow. Even if you seem like a nice person, I will not follow your blog if it is on a subject that has absolutely no interest to me, that offends my sensibilities, or that runs contrary to the dictates of my faith. I select the blogs that I follow in a judicious manner, as I do not wish to have my Reader clogged up with stuff that I don’t care about. In short, if I follow you, please take it as a high compliment. You can count on your fingers the number of blogs that I follow.

    Thank you for continuing to provide us with delightful, insightful and uplifting posts. God bless.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I agree with you about Facebook. It can be so petty! I sometimes feel like it’s a middle school hangout. I like how you approach blogs and I think I follow far too many that I don’t like. You do have to be very strategic about your social media presence or it can take over your life!

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    • I agree with all that was said here about following on blogs etc. I try to at least view the blogs of those who follow me but sometimes I really just don’t have the time. I always reply to comments and if someone comments on more than one post and I haven’t called past their blog I try ro make a concerted effort to do so 🙂

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  6. I wouldn’t worry about not being friends with your son on FB. Apparently, some teenagers are friends with their parents on one innocent, all good stuff FB account and then have another ‘let it all hang out, here’s the real me’ FB account where all the juicy stuff gets posted!!

    I sometimes feel too old for social media…it’s exhausting!

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  7. I’m a social media butterfly, I light, I take some nectar, I ignore the rest, and then I fly away home. I don’t worry too much about it. I concentrate on the nectar and the joy where I find it.

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