Between reading uncomfortable rants and getting caught Facebook stalking, social media opens up a whole new world of situations that are #awkward. Here’s how to tackle them.
Your friend posts political rants you don’t want to see
You open your feed to yet another long-winded political rant that makes your blood boil. Instead of lashing out with your own snarky response, change your settings so you don’t need to see those posts. Hide the person’s updates or delete the friend if it’s someone you rarely see in real life, says New York-based etiquette expert Thomas “Mister Manners” Farley. If it’s someone close to you, consider mentioning face-to-face that you think the person should cut down on the controversial posts. Political views tend to be pretty set in stone, so social media posts, no matter how well-written, will rarely change another person’s views dramatically—but your friend could be ruining relationships without realizing it, says Farley. “You have so many people who are in some way, shape, or form in your life for a reason, and could very quickly leave your life for the things you’re posting,” he says. “It’s not worth it.” These are the weird negative effects social media has on your brain.
A group of friends posts pictures of an activity that you weren’t invited to
You’re scrolling and find a picture of your group of friends at an activity that you were never invited to. You might feel rejected, but keep in mind that you don’t know the context—maybe there was a guest list limit, or maybe they assumed you wouldn’t be interested. “We have to remember that we don’t have to be included in every single function,” says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. “That group has the right to select who they want to be with that night. It doesn’t mean they won’t invite you the next time.” But if you still feel it’s a personal dig (maybe this is the first time your best friends have gotten together without you), call the one you’re closest to for an explanation. Just make sure your tone shows you’re sincerely curious about the reasoning, rather than simply angry at being left out, says Gottsman. Learn about the 11 pictures you should never share on social media.
Someone leaves a negative comment on your post
You wrote what you thought was an innocent post, but then someone replies with a snarky comment criticizing your values. Before you react harshly, reread what you wrote and delete the post if it could have accidentally come off as offensive, says Farley. After all, it’s hard to interpret tone via writing, so you might need to reword it. If it’s clear that the other person simply misread your words, explain your thought process and apologize for the misunderstanding—just make sure to do it face-to-face or over the phone. “Continuing the dialogue in the virtual space is not going to help,” says Farley. “It will turn into a ping-pong match that the world can see.”