Handbook for digital klutzes: What to do when they catch you chatting about an Instagram photo or WhatsApp profile | Technology

Receive a video call at 4 a.m. from an ex you haven’t had contact with in years, press I like on a photo of the neighbor across the street on Instagram, making an untimely retweet of someone we hate… These are small slips of the tongue that can rise to the level of a social tragedy, or in the best case scenario, to a ” Land “swallow me” from which it is difficult to escape. This is the embarrassing moment that happens when – human curiosity be damned – whoever is viewing WhatsApp profile photos accidentally presses the call or video call button, and the platform is not merciful: at The moment the tip of the finger caresses this deadly button, the call is triggered, with the consequent notification to the gossip. We also talk about accidental “likes”, a photo posted on Facebook or Instagram, an orgy of stupidity on the part of someone who was at the worst time and in the wrong place. A double click with the finger, much easier than it seems, to a person with whom we have no contact, opens the doors to an underground world that no one wants to enter.

The “Earth, swallow me” that everyone wants to avoid

“The first thing is to assume that ‘I made a mistake’ (sorry),” says Mauro A. Fuentes, professor of digital strategy and content at IsDI business school, “in case you are hunt down“. Sources cite the term on the Internet stem (stalking, in English) which describes these attitudes of online gossip, or digital harassment classified in the penal code in the most serious cases.

In this case, any explanation given that is not the true one will be even more humiliating for those who are trigger-happy (and clumsy). “You have to try not to make a fool of yourself by making strange excuses,” explains this expert. “When you try to explain a reason that is not credible, the feeling of shame will be difficult to forget,” he adds.

Something like this happened to Juan (a person who prefers to remain anonymous): in a group created by old classmates and during a sleepless night, he decided that it would be a good idea to review the profile pictures of his members. , to see how the passage of time had treated his friends. Juan stopped in front of the profile of a colleague, a friend of his wife, and with a bad movement on the sofa, he pressed the “nuclear button”. And at three in the morning, for even greater derision. What to do? Our protagonist chose the best option (if there is a good one): he wrote a message to this person, at the same time, explaining the truth and apologizing for it. Today, he admits, they remember it as a romantic anecdote.

Most importantly: don’t lose your cool

“The most common reactions can be fear, disbelief (“this couldn’t have happened”) and shame,” explains the psychologist. Joan Salvador Villalonga. “These are normal reactions, which we will experience in many other moments of life and for which it is preferable to breathe deeply to regain calm,” he adds. This expert recommends not panicking, because “intense emotion, whatever it may be, makes it very difficult to make important decisions.” Faced with this accidental trigger, there are several alternatives to try to get out of the quagmire, but “whatever it is, the decision must be taken calmly”.

In most cases, the incident will remain as a vague memory in the minds of those involved. “Only when that unintentional click or video call could have serious consequences should we be concerned,” Villalonga says. “For example, when we do it in our boss’s profile during a job interview,” he says.

Why don’t platforms avoid this bad situation?

The facts show that platforms are not doing enough to prevent these accidents. Why is the video call button placed next to the profile picture in WhatsApp? Why is it so easy to double-click on a screen when the natural gesture requires placing your fingers on it? Is this an intentional or accidental interface design problem? Fuentes makes his suspicions clear: “I have the feeling that some features can be deliberately close,” he explains, “like when a platform changes the position of buttons and features where the risk increases to certainty absolute that it could be done wrong. .”.

This expert in digital communication refers to “mistakes not forgiven” which, on occasion, leads to Instagram: “It is the habitual response by error to the story that a friend asked you, and it responds to the original author and no one your friend”. In this sense, Fuentes suggests that the platforms have tools “to warn” the user before they commit something absurd. Thus, a small alert could be activated and would be triggered when a video call would be made to someone who is not even one of our contacts.

To avoid the possibility of this bad experience as much as possible, experts recommend being careful when snooping on someone’s profile picture. And if the disaster has already occurred, the best thing to do is always to tell the truth: we will remember that the author was, above all, courageous and sincere (in addition, of course, to gossip).

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