Miss Netiquette’s guide to recovering from social media party fouls

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at netiquette@digitaltrends.com) your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s going to give you some tips on how you can fix mistakes you make while you’re cutting loose.

Having a good time with your friends is one of the nicest things about life. You get to unwind, swap stories, make each other laugh. But sometimes you can get a little carried away when you’re out and end up drinking too much. And that can lead to embarrassment. Maybe you say something stupid to your crush or get confrontational with an acquaintance, or you decide to turn the bar stool into your own personal therapy zone, to the chagrin of everyone around you. The red-faced “did I really do that?” moment the next morning happens for lots of people from time to time, but social media adds another layer of trouble to the mix – thanks to everyone and their mother having Facebook and Instagram, pictures of you that you wouldn’t even want to subject a professional photo developer to wind up on the Internet for your entire social circle to see. And that stupid thing you said? Now you didn’t just say it – you tweeted it. Social media helps us stay ultra-connected, but there are some moments where you’d be better off teleported to a deserted island. How do you deal with these booze-induced social media slip-ups? Take a look at some of the questions I’ve been asked about online party fouls.

Dear Miss Netiquette, I just saw pictures of my younger brother, who is 20, doing a keg stand at college. I’m five years older and I get it; I’m just worried about him getting in trouble. He told me not to worry because the pictures are set to just friends, but I still think he’s being stupid. Should I drop it or push it?

I would make another push; he could get in trouble if those pictures get around. If he put the photo up himself, just suggest that he remove it until he turns 21. If he didn’t put the photo up himself, he might have to ask the person who put it up to take it down – and he might find that embarrassing. I’d tell him to fib to his friend and say that he heard the school was busting underage drinkers by looking through Facebook, which might convince his friend to take the photo down quickly without giving him a hard time about it (also, it’s happened before). Sure, lying’s not ideal, but getting a fine or being put on probation is worse.

Dear Miss Netiquette, I am in the world’s most awkward pickle. We had a work outing to the Sox game last week, and everyone had too much to drink. The manager of another department asked to be my friend on Facebook while we were out, and I accepted, even though I try not to have work people on there. Now this guy keeps sending me flirty messages, posting on my wall, and he even poked me (I didn’t know anyone still did that.) I don’t know what to do because he’s higher up than me and he’s really good friends with my boss. I am not into this guy at all. He keeps asking me when we can hang out again and I keep coming up with excuses but today I told him I had an all girls bachelorette party – but I’m really just going out with a co-ed group of pals. 

First, you should make it clear you are not interested in him. Tell him you just started dating someone and you’re really excited about it (apparently this is the week I advocate lying as a solution). Be polite but don’t be any friendlier than necessary – don’t “like” his wall posts, don’t poke him back, and respond to his messages with curt, perfunctory answers. Then you can limit what he sees on your Facebook account by going to your privacy settings and create a custom setting for him. Once you’ve done that, stop worrying about it. You can’t get fired for not poking someone back. And maybe by the next workplace outing he’ll find a new office mate to digitally stalk.

Dear Miss Netiquette, I did something mortifying. I went out with my friends for margaritas and apparently after six drinks my fingers just can’t resist fluttering across my smartphone and tweeting the stupidest stuff imaginable. I tweeted (PUBLICLY) at my ex-boyfriend and told him he looked like a turtle. I tweeted that I was lonely and wanted some company that night, amongst other insanely inappropriate stuff. I woke up the next day at one PM and deleted everything but my ex already responded and said “WTF” and several of my followers already favorited and re-tweeted my insanity. Should I tweet an apology to my ex? Should I tweet an apology to everyone? Do you think anyone took a screenshot?

I’m going to answer your questions in order: No, do not tweet an apology. Be better than Drunk You and use a more reasonable apology method. Either call him, or if you can’t bear to call him, write him an e-mail that explains that you were just on a drunken rampage. Second question’s answer: also no. Don’t write a mass apology tweet. The quickest way everyone’s going to stop talking about this is if you don’t talk about it. Just let Twitter churn forward like it always does. Someone else will write something more absurd soon. And third question: I don’t know your friends, so I don’t know if they’re the screen shot types. So maybe? But there’s nothing you can do about it if there is a screenshot floating around somewhere, so you’d better think of some tweets that are actually funny and entertaining and hope that people are so amused by your sober Twitter prowess that they forget what happens when the margaritas take over.

Dear Miss Netiquette, I don’t really know what photo-posting protocol is anymore. I had a fantastic birthday party a few weekends ago, and took a lot of really fun pictures. I turned 30 and the night went late, but everyone was having fun and nobody did anything obnoxious. So I thought the photo album I made would go over well, but two of my friends have separately asked me to take their pictures down because there are beers in the background and they have drinks in the hands. They don’t look particularly drunk or anything. I took them down, but I don’t get it. Are my friends being crazy, or am I crazy for putting party pictures up at age 30?

Maybe your friends just think they look bad in the pictures are and are using the alcohol as an excuse. Or maybe they think they do look drunk in the pictures. Obviously, it’s not a smart move to put pictures up of your friends and you looking intoxicated. But if you’re simply holding drinks, I don’t see that as a problem. It sounds like you have a good handle on what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate, and it’s good that you honored the take down requests but your album sounds perfectly fine.

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