If you have a Facebook account (which is pretty much everyone but people over 90 and religious fundamentalists), then you are familiar with the awkward and uncomfortable feeling that occurs when the social media site betrays you. I was just reading today about a girl whose private messages from a college hookup were posted on her Newsfeed for all to see. Ouch. Maybe there is a need for a sympathize button after all.
But whether or not your personal biz was splashed all over your profile for all 1341 of your closest friends to see, you’ve probably had a Facebook moment that’s made you cringe. According to a new study done at Northwestern University, almost no one is immune to these sorts of Facebook gaffes. Only 15 of the 165 people surveyed had not experienced some form of Facebook awkwardness in the past six months.
“Almost every participant in the study could describe something that happened on Facebook in the past six months that was embarrassing or made them feel awkward or uncomfortable,” said Jeremy Birnholtz, one of the researchers. “We were interested in the strength of the emotional response to this type of encounter.”
Researchers found that people with the best internet skills, who were most invested in their online reputations, had the most severe emotional responses to these perceived “threats,” which the study further broke down into four types of Facebook awkwardnesses. Below, you can see how many of them you’ve experienced. Probably all them…
Norm violations: You take a sick day from work so you can go to a concert, then you get tagged in a picture and — doh! — you’re Facebook friends with your boss. This was deemed the most common kind of threat. About 45 percent of participants lived through something like this.
Ideal self-presentation violations: Your boyfriend posts an article about the effectiveness of condoms on your Facebook wall and your mom, forever trolling your profile, sees it. According to the study, you have about a 29 percent chance of being mortified in this way on Facebook.
Association effects: An unlucky 21 percent of participants complained of some estimation of a scenario where a peripheral acquaintance posts a “funny” picture on your wall that turns out to be well, not funny, but racist.
Aggregate effects: Your friend comments on a picture of your ex from like three years ago, and the pain of the breakup is reignited when you see it on your Newsfeed. Luckily only about 5 percent of participants dealt with this. Still, that sucks.