Basically, “take your lumps” is the short version. Sure, you can (and must) apologize if you’ve offended anyone (or possibly millions of someones), and you can try to never do it again.
Not what you wanted to hear, is it? Sadly, there’s no “calling the guy and begging him to please NOT read the letter and return it to you unopened (and thank God he did)” solution for social media. Once something is out there in cyberspace there are no take-backs.
Even when you think you’ve been quick enough to delete the evidence, there’s no guarantee that someone wasn’t quicker at screen-grabbing your error (they usually are).
Case in point: Actor-musician Drake Bell made the mistake of interrupting the primarily supportive social stream when Caitlyn Jenner (the transgender woman formerly known as Bruce) debuted her new female identity via Vanity Fair cover by tweeting:
Using the wrong pronouns is hugely disrespectful to a trans person, not to mention unkind, and Bell immediately heard it from the rest of the social universe.
The performer tried to explain, according to Lisa Respers France at CNN,
“Bell, who starred in the popular TV series ‘Drake & Josh,’ tried to clean things up by tweeting, ‘I'm not dissing him! I just don't want to forget his legacy! He is the greatest athlete of all time! Chill out!’”
Social users don’t wait for explanations
But the problem with the Internet is that perception is reality – and even if Bell is sincere, and not simply trying to cover the gaffe, once you’re trending on Facebook or Twitter the genie can’t go back in the bottle.
And even though sometimes the transgression may soon blow over, being the center of a social sabotage controversy can sometimes put you on the wrong side of the spotlight just long enough to do permanent damage to your reputation.
It’s always better to take a beat to consider the implications of each post – and err on the side of silence if necessary, rather than engaging in the wrong way on social media.
I’m sure Drake Bell wishes he had.
Been on the wrong side of a social mishap? How’d you handle it? Tweet me your stories!
IMAGE CREDIT: SMLP.CO.UK