How to Avoid Embarrassment in Social Networks

Gnomie iGeek3 asks: “Has social media ever embarrassed you?

Have you ever been embarrassed by something someone, or even you yourself, posted on a social networking site? Have you ever had something come out that you didn’t want the world to know, but it came out anyway? Perhaps something was said or done that wasn’t entirely true, but was embarrassing anyway?

Social media is like any other community in that information and details about your life may surface, whether you gave the okay or not. Photos taken at parties, drunken tweets, and other potentially damaging actions can turn even the most transparent and open individual red in embarrassment. It happens, but it’s something you can take steps to avoid. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid unpleasant and embarrassing situations in social networks.

Think Before You Post

It may be easy to consider something worth posting in the short-term. We’ve all been there, and in the heat of various online discussions, it’s better to stop for a moment before you engage in what could be an embarrassing situation for you down the line. Everyone’s been there at one time or another, and it’s important to always keep a level head when interacting with people on a public forum, no matter what your security settings are.

Always Post as if Everything is Public

You may have your privacy settings set to friends only and your friends list may only extend to a few people you actually know in real life, but you never know when Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ will break something. Facebook once had a glitch that shared your private chats (not postings) with your entire friends list. It’s important to remember that while you may have your own page on a network, you don’t own or control the network. Everything you say and do can be shared with the world without notice.

Keep a Close Eye on Where You’re Tagged

Do you have a friend who likes to post photos of everyone at the latest party? Being tagged in a photo someone else posted can be essentially the same as posting the photo yourself, especially on Facebook. Keep a close eye on where you’re tagged and remove yourself from that photo’s participants if the content isn’t something you’d readily post yourself. If that friend continues to post embarrassing photos of you, defriend them and reject any invitations or tag requests they send. It’s better to explain the defriending to one person than explain a series of drunken party photos to a potential employer.

Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You

This is an old saying, and it holds true even today. Posting embarrassing things about your friends will do nothing but inspire them to return the favor. If someone is embarrassed online publicly, don’t join in. Don’t encourage the activity at all. In some cases, purposely embarrassing someone on a social network can be considered cyber bullying and may even result in legal actions. If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say it at all. It’s best to stay out of these interactions entirely, and block them when they are sent your way. Your social page(s) have a much longer lasting impression on your life than school courtyard teasing. Not only can your other friends see it, but there’s no telling how long it will exist on the Web years down the line.

Don’t Do Embarrassing Things

Bottom line: doing something embarrassing in public where everyone and anyone has a camera on them is a bad idea. Unless there is some context to it that you can quickly add in a comment that readily explains the action, you probably should think twice before taking part in something that would be difficult to explain to your boss. Remember, the world is very different now, and what you do can potentially be seen by everyone and anyone. Just ask one of the hundreds of people who have had an embarrassing video go viral on YouTube.

Avoiding social media embarrassment can be difficult, especially if you regularly interact with large groups of people online. Your offline activities performed in public are hard to keep offline, especially now that so many people can share photos and videos with a tap of their mobile device. Because of this, you should be extra careful at all times, not just when you’re updating your status on Twitter or Facebook.

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