Modern Faux Pas – 7 social gaffs to avoid in the age of big tech

Sorry, wrong chat! Ever done that - thought you were replying to a friend directly only to discover that you’ve just gone and shared embarrassing information on the class parent chat group? Happens to the best of us. The modern world has ushered in a raft of technological innovations that make it easier and faster for us to communicate with each other. But it takes some time to get to grips with the pitfalls and how not to step into them.

Here is a list of technological faux pas that I’ve grappled with (and sometimes still do), as the online world increasingly takes up the biggest percentage of my communications with people, from friends to staff to family…


  1. Cancelling plans with someone and then posting pictures of yourself

It’s an innocent mistake. You finish work, finish with the kids, finish with the day and you just can’t face that looming engagement and the getting ready that comes with it (hair, make up, outfit) All you want to do is curl up on the sofa and wind down not up. You don’t want to let anyone down but you just can’t muster the energy so you do the equivalent of calling in sick and send your apologies. And then along comes impromptu fun. A partner or friend drops by with a spontaneous offer and twists your arm. Suddenly you find yourself out, having the time of your life and out come the selfies. Except now you’ve been tagged in a post. And that good friend you cancelled on? They feel slighted. It’s time to make reparations. And for goodness sake, don’t feel the need to capture everything!


  1. Accidentally liking a photo from 2007 on a friends Facebook profile

This is a dead giveaway that you’ve been snooping / stalking. And the ick factor goes up exponentially in proportion to how distant that friend is on the acquaintance spectrum! The only way to get out of this one is to just fess up and say “you caught me peeking”!


  1. Forgetting to mute yourself then nipping off to go to the toilet / fridge/ shout at the kids / answering the door

Hmm, can’t say I’ve done this one but I’ve certainly heard from a few people that have! In working from home, I know of one friend who has their desk in their bedroom. The bedroom also contains an ensuite bathroom. Unfortunately for her, she failed to mute her mic on a Zoom call when she excused herself to go relieve herself. Oh dear.


  1. Accidentally tapping heart and then un-hearting an Instagram pic

I’m aware that I just created a new verb there, and that as an educator, it may not be a very good one. But here we are, being heartless. I’ve done this a few times quite by accident while using my fingers to expand an image on Instagram and then realising I actually tapped the screen instead. Whoops. I’ve got no idea of people can track their history and see this rapid fire action being undone, but if they can, there’s a few people out there that must think I’ve maliciously decided I don’t like their post after all. Rest assured, I didn’t mean to like to it in the first place (!)


  1. Pretending you know what an acronym stands for

This is a an odd one. Hear me out. There are so many buzzwords and pop culture phrases. Some of these include acronyms, like the ever popular FOMO. Most of them derive from text talk (and sext talk so I’m told, but that is a whole other story and list of acronyms!), and can easily get mixed in with industry shortcuts to saying things in full. All I can say is, don’t get your LMFAO (laughing my f&*%$^& a!@* off) mixed up with your POC (proof of concept) and pretend you’re down with the lingo and know the meaning of an abbreviated turn of phrase. It can raise some eyebrows.


  1. Replying all

This has been around since the advent of email. Need I say more? Try changing your setting to enable message recall in case of emergency. But remember you’ve only got a window of a few minutes to realise your mistake of sending your private message to the public group and activating the call back. Beware.


  1. Reading messages and not replying for ages

And the cracker of them all. The one that catches us out all the time: the open and read WhatsApp message that you just don’t get around to replying to, forgetting that the sender can see you’ve seen the message and chosen to ignore them. You know my thoughts on this – see my Blog about WhatsApp Etiquette – I have no qualms about reading a message and not replying if it comes in late at night or at any other inappropriate time. But if you opened it days or weeks ago and then you suddenly need to ask that person a favour? Don’t be surprised if they don’t respond!


Have you got any crackers? I’d love to know the amusing mistakes you’ve made or witnessed. For the good of all!

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