The E-Faux Pas is one of the most painfully embarrassing developments of the technological age, and one of the most common, too. We’ve all been there: The colour drains from your cheeks, you break into a cold sweat and that the rush of panic runs through your body like a freight train. And it usually happens because you’re not paying attention or using your common sense when you’re using technology.
There are great stories out there about the technological social faux pas, and more often than not, they are absolutely hilarious. Texting your Mum instead of your girlfriend? Ouch. E-Mailing your boss instead of a work colleague when you’re feeling particularly venomous towards them that day? Painful. When it’s not you who’s committing these crimes of social embarrassment, they make for fantastic tales to tell. When it happens to you, the likelihood is that you are likely to disappear from the face of the earth for a while. If people want to find you, they should check under the sand, because that’s where your head will be buried.
“Hey sexy, how r u? Looking forward to seeing you later for a party for two. Xxx”
To your Mum.
Time to look for somewhere else to live.
Mobile phones should come with an Artificial Intelligence ‘Don’t Be an Idiot’ function that is somehow able to work out when you are being a muppet and sending a text to the wrong person, because human beings certainly don’t seem to have this function.
How many times have you been sent a text message that simply reads: “I don’t think that text was meant for me” and felt the sickness and panic take over your body, before quickly running through your sent box to find the incriminating evidence. This is sometimes down to a lack of awareness, but often it is because of alcohol, the arch-villain of common sense and instigator of the worst e-faux pas’.
Once a couple of Shandy’s have found their way into your bloodstream, you may suddenly feel the urge to tell everybody on your phone and on your social media profiles that you love them… or the opposite. Looking through a drunk persons Twitter feed or Facebook statuses reads like the ramblings of a person who is desperately aiming for an entry into the Stupidity Hall of Fame.
When you wake up the next day and check over your activity, it is not uncommon to find a few Likes or Retweets, a few ‘Tut-Tut’ style responses, a few declarations of war, and a few less Followers… And that’s if you’re lucky. It’s from this moment that the awkwardness and apologies begin.
Leaving the alcohol induced stories out of the equation; there are plenty of social media faux pas that can happen without being intoxicated. There is the now legendary cautionary tale of the girl who took to Facebook to complain about her boss, only to be met with a response from the boss, who she had clearly forgotten she had added as a Friend. D’oh. So many other people have made similar errors; they just haven’t gone quite as viral as that social media cock-up classic.
E-mails – like text messages – can quite easily be misconstrued if they are short and to the point or use words that could come across as aggressive or negative. Spelling and grammar errors certainly don’t help. In 2007, whilst working for a Business Travel company, James Francis was sending an email to a client about a particular booking that he had arranged with a hotel, and the purpose of the email was – for all intents and purposes – to show off and seek praise.
This would have been great, had the email not been signed off with: “Kind Retards, James Francis.”
Political incorrectness aside, it must have been slightly confusing when the client checked his emails and found a nice long email detailing his hotel booking, only to be met with an admission with James Francis was very complimentary about the mentally challenged.
Did James get a response?
“It was completely ignored,” he said. “But I wanted to die. I kept reading the email in my Sent items, hoping that the next time I looked at the email it would somehow change to ‘kind regards’ and my heart could go back to less than a million beats per minute. It was horrible.”
There you have it, three different kinds of social faux pas crimes, all committed via technology. We’ve all been there, and the chances are we’ll be there again. Let us know your e-faux pas (if you dare) below:
Sophie works alongside Abtec, a company specialising in IT support in Leicester, Birmingham and Leeds. Over the years she has fallen foul of a few tech-based blunders herself, therefore understands the importance of checking before you send!