Everyone has felt that feeling. You posted something on Facebook that pissed off a friend. You Instagrammed a mortifying picture of your sister. They’re pissed. How do you smooth things over?
Ideally, you practise common sense before you pull the trigger on a post. But you’re only human, and there will be a time when you have a lapse in judgement. Here’s how to fix your inevitable mistakes, from the most minor to most severe offenses:
You accidentally favourite a tweet:
Idly browsing Twitter, and you mean to click on a link but instead you favourite someone’s tweet? Oh no, oh no, oh no! Panic sets in. What if the recipient of the fave thinks the fave in question was mocking them or WORSE, flirting? It’s OK to go ahead and undo. Chances are, if you catch the flub in time, no one noticed anyway.
You accidentally send a tweet:
So the obvious solution here would be to delete. But we say just go with it! Because Twitter should be an entire reflection of your digital life, not just the polished stuff. Hey, at least you’re not a drunk senator blaming a dumb tweet on his sweaty butt.
— leslie (@LesHorn) April 24, 2013
You accidentally defriend someone:
This is the kind of thing that seems to happen as your Facebook friends are growing up and getting married. (Also, for some reason they’re still doing that stupid middle name thing). This is also something you don’t usually realise you’ve done until long after you’ve done it. Awkward, right? If it’s someone who’s not really a close friend, don’t sweat it. You probably don’t need to be Facebook friends with them anyway. Otherwise, re-request your pal and include a message explaining your mistake, and you’ll have something to joke about.
You call someone out:
It’s pretty easy to get carried away online. Twitter is joke-friendly and the fact that you’re not sitting face to face with someone takes out that tangible personal connection. Things can get taken too far pretty quickly. So you screwed up. Delete the joke. After that, the same rules apply here that apply in real life: apologise. If it’s a close friend, say it in person. If it’s just a digital acquaintance, write a quick DM.
You offend your mother:
Since our mums and dads crept into our social networks there’s the constant threat of saying something that will make them feel as though they’ve failed as parents. First and foremost, they’re your parents and they’re going to love you no matter what, unless you’re Ed Gein. So you post something and your mum is just horrified. Think for a second if it really crossed the line. Did you comment on your Uncle Kevin’s weight and propensity to continue living in your grandparents’ garage long after he’s overstayed his welcome? Yikes. Here again, you’ve got to go with the ol’ delete and apologise. Or better yet, preemptively filter out relatives on Facebook so they only see the updates you want them to.
You post a sensitive picture:
Post a picture of a drunk night out that might burn the eyes of a friend’s puritanical place of employment? She’ll get over it. But did you carefully Photoshop the head of a pal onto the scantily clad body of Agent Scully? And did that chum just graduate from FBI training school? Gizmodo’s Ashley Feinberg recently did this. Her advice? You better delete that and put in a call to 1800-Flowers STAT.
You share someone else’s news:
Here the principle of look before you leap applies. Did a friend get engaged? Great! Has she posted anything about it yet? Nope. Then hold your tongue. But sometimes the news is buried in the subtext, and people can draw their own conclusions. In February, I posted a picture of my pregnant sister without realising she hadn’t told many of her friends. The solution here is to hope the person you’ve wronged is understanding. My sister was. Don’t forget that sorry never hurts. And when people come at you asking about said news like the Spanish Inquisition, play coy! And if all else fails, that delete button is there for a reason.
At times the internet is quick to forgive and at others, it chooses to remember forever. And you’re going to screw up sometimes. But that’s OK! We’re here to laugh along with you and hopefully help you avoid some of that. Let us know some of the worst mistakes you’ve made online below.
Picture: Everett Collection/Shutterstock
User Manual is Gizmodo’s guide to etiquette.