The 4 Ways You Embarrass Yourself on Facebook According to Science

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It's a trauma zone of guileless grandmas and high school photos.

Logging onto Facebook is sometimes a veritable trauma buffet, filled with guileless grandmas liking your ex's profile pictures, obnoxious high school friends Rickrolling you, and your mean friends posting terrifically hideous photos before you get the chance to delete them. Science understands your plight, which is why researchers from Northwestern University are examining why and in what ways we are severely embarrassed by what goes on within that little blue and white interface. 

Out of the 165 people surveyed within the study, only 15 had not felt the burning humiliation that is a Facebook faux pas. Those most likely to experience severe embarrassment at the hand of Facebook interactions were those most concerned with social appropriateness (read: high strung) and people with a diverse group of friends including co-workers, family, friends, and exes on their News Feed. In addition, those reporting a high level of Internet literacy (Cough. Bloggers. Cough.) were also likely to experience a bout of the traumaramas. Because they understand how an online presence is a big fucking deal. (It's not.) Meanwhile, those who had mastered the "Custom" were like, "Are you kidding me, guys?"

The study concluded that the four most frequent kinds of Facebook humiliations one can endure were as follows:

1. The "You're Caught" Embarrassment


45 percent of those studied reported experiencing the norm violation humiliation. It's when something you or someone else posts goes against social norms to humiliating effect. You're either caught or exposed to be more of a weirdo or a fake than you'd like to be. 

Example: Evidence of your underage drinking. Pictures of you in a barely-there Halloween costume. A photo tagged of you and your boyfriend on a night when you were supposed to go to a Lorde show with your best friend. Oops.


2. The "But That's Not Who I Am!" Embarrassment

29 percent said they had felt the effects of ideal self-presentation violations. This is essentially when people post content about you or to you that you feel is inconsistent with the person you want to be seen as on Facebook. We all have a Facebook persona and we will destroy anyone who tarnishes it.

Example: Your well meaning friend posts a link to an article about a dildo sculpture park on your wall. You don't want family and coworkers seeing it because, c'mon man, that's just not you.


3. The "I Barely Know That Person" Embarrassment


21 percent of us felt the painful afterbirth of association effects. This embarrassment derives from being worried about how we look because of the awful things our Facebook "friends" are posting. It's second hand blushing.

Example: Much to your chagrin, your friend tags you in a rave review of the latest Dave Matthews Band album and then posts a track on your wall, adding, "Check out this jam!" No, the track is, indeed, not a jam, and you're worried all of the rest of your Facebook friends will start thinking of you as that sad fire dancer girl.


4. The "And Now Everyone Can See That" Embarrassment


A small yet significant 5 percent of subjects found they were victims of the aggregate effects humiliation. This is when a post of yours gets higher visibility than you ever intended due to commenting and likes. Friends of friends of friends are checking it out. Regret settles in.

Example: Your friend comments on photo from 2007 of you and your ex boyfriend, saying, "Omg, I forgot when you had red hair!" Suddenly that photo is dug up from the unholy crypt of Facebook history and on every mutual friend's News Feed thanks to one tiny new comment. You start fielding texts and comments: "Love the new hair." "Glad you found someone." "Who the hell is that dude?"

Image via Veer.