7 awkward situations people didn't have to worry about 30 years ago

Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/FlickrBeing awkward is part of being a human today.
  • Awkward moments are a part of life. But certain awkward situations wouldn’t have been possible a few decades ago.
  • For example: updating your LinkedIn profile, thereby making your boss suspicious that you’re looking for new jobs.
  • Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman recommends dealing with the situation, learning from it, and moving on, instead of dwelling.

Awkward moments aren’t unique to modern-day life. But there are certain types of awkward situations that previous generations never could have imagined.

Think accidentally liking someone’s Instagram photo from five years ago, making it clear that you were social-media stalking them. Or inadvertently sending a mean-spirited text message … to the person you were talking about. Yikes!

Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert, the author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, and the founder of The Protocol School of Texas, calls situations like these “oh well moments.”

If you accidentally liked someone’s old Facebook update, “either unlike it or let it go,” she said. If you were tagged in a photo at a friend’s birthday party when you were supposed to be at another friend’s get-together, “just say, ‘I’m sorry. It was difficult for me to tell you I did not want to go.'”

Below, we’ve listed seven of the most cringeworthy scenarios that could only happen in contemporary life.

Instead of freaking out, Gottsman recommends using each of these experiences as a “lesson learned,” so you know what kind of behaviour to avoid in the future.

Your employee called in sick but posted an Instagram pic of their beach vacation


Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager column, has heard this scenario before.

In her opinion, it’s more about whether you trust your employee and less about the specific sick days they have taken.

Still, Green recommends that you say something like this:

“I’ve noticed that a few times when you’ve been out sick recently, you’ve posted photos to social media that made it look like you were doing something else that day. I’m sure you weren’t – I realise people post photos all the time that weren’t taken on that same day, and more importantly, I trust you.

“But it occurred to me that junior employees who are also connected to you on social media and who have to cover your work when you’re out are also seeing these and may not have that perspective.”

You want to update your LinkedIn profile to look for new jobs


Michael Lando at Glassdoor puts it succinctly: “If your boss gets that upset over a LinkedIn update (updating your LinkedIn can be considered professional development) you probably aren’t working for someone who wants to see you succeed.”

That said, if you’re really concerned about giving your boss reason to be suspicious, Lando advises transparency. You might send them an email saying: “I was looking at my LinkedIn profile, and I noticed that there are a lot of projects and responsibilities that I haven’t included, so I’m going to be adding some additional information in the next few days.”

LinkedIn is clear though: If you’re actively searching for a job on the app, they won’t send any updates to your network.

You were tagged in a photo of a friend’s party when you were supposed to be somewhere else


The key to making sure this doesn’t happen again is learning how to decline invitations with confidence and grace.

Behavioural investigator Vanessa Van Edwards recommends not giving any excuse when you turn down an invitation. “Say ‘thank you’ and just say ‘no,'” Van Edwards said.

Etiquette expert Rosalinda Oropeza Randall has another suggestion: “It’s not going to work out tonight. I’m so sorry.” That way, you’ll be less likely to get in trouble.

Autocorrect changed a word in your text message to something inappropriate

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s happened to all of us.

The message recipient will likely understand, but if you want to prevent this situation from happening again, you have a few options, outlined by USA Today.

One option is turning off autocorrect entirely, which you can do in iPhone settings. Another is resetting your keyboard dictionary, also in settings, so that you can “retrain” autocorrect with your preferences.

The person you’re seeing is still active on dating apps

Shutterstock/ wavebreakmedia

“Even if you’re not swiping on your dating app, keeping it on your phone represents intrigue and opportunity, and the presence of them on your phone can breed mistrust in your relationship,” online dating expert Damona Hoffman told Bustle.

“The apps should be deleted at the time you decide you are exclusive and you agree that you are not going to be dating anyone else,” Hoffman told Bustle.

Wondering how to bring up the “exclusive” conversation?

Andrea Syrtash, author of “It’s OK to Sleep With Him on the First Date,” previously told Business Insider that it helps to say something like: “I really enjoy spending time with you and I’d love to do it more. I’m not comfortable if you’re sleeping [or going on dates] with other people, and I figure that’s worth bringing up now. How do you feel?”

You accidentally sent a gossipy message to the person you were talking about

Once it’s done, it’s done. But to avoid wrecking any future friendships, always double-check the recipient before sending any message.

In Gmail, you can enable the “undo send” option in settings so that, if you do slip up, you have a chance to save yourself.

Accidentally liking someone’s old Instagram photo so they know you were social-media stalking them

You’re hardly the only person who’s guilty of keeping tabs on an ex.

“We are fascinated with ourselves basically, and our exes are parts of ourselves that we left in the past,” Dr. Jennifer Freed, a family behavioural specialist, told Bustle.

But this slip-up might be a wake-up call that you need to lay off the social-media stalking.

Online dating expert and dating coach Julie Spira told Vice that it helps to find an accountability buddy. And Laura Yates, breakup and heartbreak coach and writer, told Vice that it’s important to set a goal of not checking your ex’s profile for one day and gradually increasing from there.

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