Ask MR: Help, My Friend’s Embarrassing on Social Media

Hello and welcome to our advice column, “Ask MR,” where we answer your burning questions in the hopes of being the ointment to your life rash. Ask us questions by emailing with the subject line “ASK MR A QUESTION,” or leave yours in the comments.

Hi MR,

I’m just going to come out and say it: One of my friends is SO EMBARRASSING ON INSTAGRAM. And Twitter! She is always posting photos of LATTES and her shoes. She uses so many hashtags and her captions are so basic. She also posts way too many PDA photos of her and her boyfriend, and when she was single, it was just so much skin all the time. Does she not know it’s embarrassing or weird? She’s not a blogger! (She’s not private, either, so it’s like…) On Twitter it’s just useless life updates or letting everyone know that she posted a photo to Instagram. I love her as a friend and don’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her, but I have heard other people make fun of her for it and I don’t want her to not know that what’s she’s doing is embarrassing, you know? So what do I do? Do I tell her, and if so, how?

Oh boy. Okay. I first want to commiserate and acknowledge that I do know what this feels like: to be embarrassed by a friend’s actions, whether they be online or in-person or by third-party association. I suffer from severe second-hand embarrassment; I used to have visceral reactions watching those episodes of American Idol where they focus on the bad singers, and those are strangers. So know that I’m with you here, emotionally, as I get a little harsh (because I’m also speaking to myself):

What your friend does on social media — so long as it does not involve your photo, handle or information directly — does not have anything to do with you. You have got to let her do her thing.

Your friend seems tech-savvy enough to post a photo, hashtag and tweet about it; she knows what she’s doing. She likely sees the accounts of others, both those like and unlike hers, and acknowledges the differences and similarities. Though you may have no fucking clue what is going through her head when she posts 20 photos in a row, I guarantee that she does. She knows. Maybe she’s thinking, “Welp, this is going to be painful but I gotta get these babies up, so here we go.” Or, maybe she’s thinking, “A gift to the world!”

Whether her reasoning is arbitrary or deliberate, she does not blackout and then post a sunset photo. (Unless you think she does. My friends know to contact me immediately if I post a drunk Snapchat, and I them. This is a prior arrangement we’ve made in agreement, similar to booger alerts and stuff-in-teeth warnings.) Your friend knows what she uploaded. She’s proud of it, and her caption. You know how long a good caption takes. You may not agree with her tune or paint color, but she is expressing herself.

As for others “making fun of her,” people are dicks. Ignore them. Or tell them to lay off and change the subject.  Maybe they’re jealous of her filtering skills. What they’re definitely not doing is associating her actions online with you or yours. If you don’t like how she acts on Instagram, don’t act like her! It’s not up to you to police her.

If she asks you for your opinion, then fine. The situation changes. You’ll have to make a judgement call based on how strong your relationship is, how honest you’ve been with her in the past and how honest you feel comfortable being. A good measure is to ask yourself how you would feel if she said X to you — then check that against whether or not you think she really wants the truth, or simply wants a friend to co-sign her behavior. My gut is that you should tread lightly and kindly here; rather than shut her photo down, ask to see a few others for comparison. Ask what other kinds of captions she had swirling in her head. From there, choose your favorite. I know this isn’t always an option.

Whatever you do, remember that friendship is way more real than social-media personas and followers’ perceptions. Actually, start there, then make your decision.

Illustration by Maria Jia Ling Pitt. 

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  • Rheanonn Perez

    LOL okay did one of my friends send this in?? 😂

    … haha

    • Rheanonn Perez

      i laugh because i am “that friend” that posts a bunch of OOTDs, always promoting a blog post (“link in bio!”), & hashtags the fuck out of one picture (although i stopped doing that recently because what’s the point of getting 100+ likes when it’s mostly likebots). idk about this friend in question but as a semi-frequent-instagrammer, i do cringe a little when i promote myself. but i mean it’s all in good fun, as amelia said, i’m just expressing myself thru OOTDs & my blog. if ppl enjoy it, cool. if not, it’s whatever lol

      • Amelia Diamond

        here’s my thing and i wish i wrote it in there: EVERYONE ANNOYS SOMEONE AT SOME POINT so you JUST HAVE TO DO WHAT FEELS GOOD TO YOU. Seriously!

  • Adrianna

    I’m sure at least one person’s made fun of my instagram or social media accounts, to which I say: You’re the one sitting around and looking at my photos. I’m off hanging out with my boyfriend and drinking #lattes.

    • Amelia Diamond

      haha that’s a great point too. I’ve seen this quote floating around but it’s like “if you’re still following or looking at my photos, you’re a fan.” OO it’s so saucy!


  • kelleylynn

    WOW, this question was very rude! Protect this wholesome #instagramgirl from her shitty friends please.

    • Chloe

      Right? How mean! Let her do her thing. If one of my friends was embarrassed by my instagram because of lattes and shoe pics I’d wonder what kind of friend they were.

    • This question made me wonder if I accidentally stumbled upon some new teen section of Man Repeller because the op sounds “SO FOURTEEN”.

      • pamb

        On behalf of my 14 year old: they’re all on Snapchat, Instagram is for the Olds 😉

        • Hah! Fair enough. I need to get with the times. x

    • Lyric

      I think she’s more worried that her friend is embarrassing herself in front of others. I think she’s putting too much value into what strangers think of her friend, but that doesn’t make her a shitty person. It’s just weird to me to turn around and be harsh to someone for worrying about their friend (albeit in a very immature way)

      • kelleylynn

        You’re right: exhibiting shitty behavior does not make a person wholesale shitty. But the behavior? Yup. I stand by that. Being so concerned that she felt the need to write a gd website about her friend’s harmless behavior due to some perceived embarrassment is a million levels of gross, and I hate it. I have been in this exact position before and it is the dumbest thing.

        Support your friends and the things they like to do, especially when it’s harming literally, uh, NO ONE.

  • Rosie

    I love all of my friends’ instagram accounts, even the ones that might seem [quote] *basic* [unquote] because they’re my GIRLS and they’re just living their damn lives and want to show it off to the world, and I love that. One of my coworkers posts pretty generic stuff on instagram and snapchat, i.e. shoe pictures and coffee and “wine & design” (lol), but I know she’s awesome IRL and her online presence is not a direct reflection of her, so why would I care?!? I’m SURE my online presence annoys some people, and your friend might even know that about hers as well, but maybe she just doesn’t give a fuck because why should she? IN CONCLUSION: If you’re embarrassed by your friend’s completely harmless internet behavior, then what kind of friend are you?

    • Amelia Diamond

      you sound like a good friend rosie!! shout ’em from the rooftops

  • Lanatria Brackett Ellis

    At least she isn’t stealing identities and racking up charges for designer goods at someone else’s expense.Suprisingly some people do this and a blogger just got arrested for this.

    • Amelia Diamond

      blogger catfish!!

  • Inaat

    What if you are embarrassed by your own stuff on social media? (tiny lol) I want to post photos but I get so insecure but it´s usually ok, I¨ll get over it. But captions are terrible. I have no idea what to write or not write, so I usually just end up with a couple of hashtags thinking in the back of my mind “omg everyone is going to think this is so lame”.

    • Amelia Diamond

      This could be a good Ask MR! just do what you want! who CARES?! (i get it because I care about my account but sometimes you just want to post without thinking!!!)

      • Inaat

        Yeah I know! But I am constantly thinking about everything! Please do a Ask MR about this:)

    • Cordelia

      I hear you! I overanalyse all my Insta posts. I apply a filter, make a caption and then end up not posting them. I basically only post once a month when I am at the confident part of my period cycle. (And now I’m overanalysing that comment too! Sighs…).

      • Inaat

        Good to hear others do too! I look at others pics and think “they dont care, they’re just cool”, yes sounds stupid…

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    on the flip side: the person who seems ultra cool on social media is *also* embarrassing themselves, but in a different way. think about it! all that time spent agonizing over pithy captions, perfect lighting, candid photo ops…isn’t it all a bit self-involved, which in turn makes it somewhat embarrassing? (mind you, i am 100% not judging anyone who does this, because i myself do it all the time. luv my ~witty~ captions. ) I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone on social media is just out here embarrassing themselves. whether we’re putting too much effort, not enough effort, being cool, being basic, we’re all caught up in this masturbatory (albeit super fun) act. and that’s an oddly comforting thought, no?

    • kelleylynn


  • amItheasshole?

    I have a situation where a friend being terrible at social media may also be affecting my life negatively. I’m on an improv team (i live in LA and am unoriginal) with a friend who is insanely overactive on Facebook to the point where it is uncomfortable. He will comment or like instantly ANYONE’S post, including teachers we’ve had or people who are more well known who he doesn’t really know in real life. He posts about 5+ “joke” statuses a day and they are so incessant and frequent that it’s grating. He also will do things like post things that he may not realize are… for lack of a better word, unchill – like, there was a competition we had here where winners got to participate in a performance, and he made like 10 statuses about the performance knowing full well that many of his friends didn’t get the same opportunity. He is overconfident and inserts himself into way too many conversations where he isn’t really friends with the people riffing.

    The issue is that we are on a team that books and hosts shows together and I feel like he is so embarrassing on Facebook that it makes our entire team look weird and unfunny. The problem is he’s a funny person and WAY different IRL, and I think he just doesn’t know how over the top he is on Facebook. I wish there was some magical way to divorce his online presence from who he is in person because it’s honestly embarrassing for all of us, and when I talk to people who I know get the brunt of his FB weirdness, I feel a weird awkwardness where I have this urge to throw him under the bus and apologize for his behavior (I’ve obviously never done this, as he truly is my friend!) Also, I know several of our FRIENDS have the exact same issue, so i can’t even imagine what these virtual strangers think.

    Anyways… this article helped me a bit but man is it uncomfortable. I feel like an asshole but it really is a Thing!

  • MY MOMMMMMMM’s Instagram is soooooo *cringe* I want to cry. Thanks for the advice to let her live (even though I just want to hack her account and disable her phone from ever having Instagram again!!!!!!)

  • This is definitely a YOU problem and not your friend’s problem. If you’re only going to be real-life friends with people who are “good” at social media get to work on racking up your own followers.

  • Slushee

    When I was 15, I went on a school trip. After the trip I printed the photos – this was when you printed photos. Everyone was sharing their holiday pictures in school. I had scribbled a ‘funny’ caption on the back of each photo. And everyone read them and chuckled – out of obligation or maybe they were being kind or maybe they even found it funny. I was an awkward teen with awkward friends. My lovely friends, such as they were, made a point of taking me aside to let me know my captions “aren’t funny”, with their curling lips. When I look back, I remember that moment and what I recall is what effing mean spirited useless bitches they were to try to bring me down and that I don’t miss them at all.

  • Bo

    I think the real problem here is that you deep down feel bad about judging your friend! I have friends who do the whole latte-basic outfit-fitness Instagram thing but you know what? One of them had the balls to move to Spain ALONE and is drinking her lattes in the sunshine. When not making basic outfit posts, the second girl works a terrifyingly clever job for one of the top defence materiel manufacturers in the country. The instafit girl has a heart of gold and has lost 15kg in like 4 months! Stop judging your friends on what they post and look past that to the greatness they all have. I know you say you’re concerned of what strangers who don’t know her think – but you’re you do know her and you’re the one judging, so really you’re acting more like a stranger than a friend to her anyway.

  • meme

    Okay, okay but what about when a family member makes really embarrassing comments on YOUR posts? Are we suppossed to let them up? Hell, once someone congratulated me on changing jobs in a “good riddance” tone and I still have my old collegues as friends.