Monday, August 3, 2009

Accidentally Video Chat Requesting Someone You Barely Know

This awkwardizer is clearly trying the play-it-cool method and failing miserably:

I really think the iChat application needs to have a more extensive screening process before allowing two people to be instantly connected through video chat. When you want to IM someone not only do you have to double click their name, but also you must type something and click enter. Needless to say, it would be very difficult to accidentally IM someone. However with video chat, all you need to do is click on the little green button and an invitation to video chat them is instantly sent. This has happened to me several times (and I’ve had some close calls as well) with people that have no business being on my buddy list (I’m sketchy) and I haven’t spoken to in months or even years, and have no interest in speaking with. Even if I wanted to speak with them, I would certainly not want our first interaction after a yearlong absence to be a “catch-up” on the video chat.

So there are three lines of action one can take after such an awkward accident. The first and most obvious is to cancel your video chat invitation before they accept, thus not having to ever see their face or speak to them (Rule #1 is things are almost always more awkward in person). This does present a few problems though. You have to follow that up with an apology IM saying something to the extent of “hey sorry about that… accidentally clicked the video chat button hahaha” (the hahaha is an attempt to brush it off as a funny situation you both recognize and act as if you’re both laughing at the slight awkwardness.) The awkwardness of this moment will vary in direct proportion to how little you know the person and how long it’s been since you’ve seen them. If you haven’t seem them in, say a year, it’s rude to just say that without a little game of catchup, so you naturally have to ask how everything’s been going and have a 5 minute long conversation (over IM at least) that you both know is phony and never would have happened if it weren’t for your reckless mouse-clicking.

If it's someone you see fairly often but rarely exchange more than 2 words with, the conversation will be an in-your-face reminder of how capable you are of hanging out but how you never do simply because you both don't particularly care for one another. This will be like an 800 pound gorilla in the room that will inhibit the conversation from being remotely interesting or not awkward (hopefully he/she won't try to pull the whole phony "hey we never hang out! we should chill sometime soon...." Better that they do that on your Facebook wall so that it can be brushed off in the chaotic public sphere)

The second and third options (which I tend to think are more manly and respectable) are to bite the bullet and wait till the video chat. Then you can (second option) explain that it was a mistake, make a joke, have a laugh, briefly catch up, and say goodbye. The third option (which is by far the ballsiest) is to wait until the video chat starts and act as if this was your plan all along. This will only work for you supercool, calm, good liars out there that love to play off situations that everyone knows are awkward as if they’re no big deal. This option is not for the faint of heart. Either way I think we can all agree it’s pretty awkward when this kind of stuff happens.

Recently I meat-headedly deleted my buddy list. Starting from scratch and recreating, however much of a grind, was actually a great idea because I then realized how unnecessary it is to have those random people from camp or those people that I just never talk to. I think the moral of the story is you shouldn’t have someone on your buddy list unless you’re comfortable talking to them in person or at least down for a spontaneous video chat.

Post Script: I find this slightly similar to an accidental clicking of the “like” button on Facebook. If you’re looking, say, through a random girl’s pictures that your friend’s with (but haven’t much business being friends with besides the fact that you met once) and your mouse accidentally clicks the “like” button, how are you supposed to recover from that? Do you comment on the picture (which is probably a bikini picture, postulating from Murphy’s law) with something like “whoops didn’t mean to do that!” or will that just dig you deeper in your whole of sketchiness? The fact of the matter is, there is no way to avoid the awkwardness of the obvious fact that you were creeping through this girl’s pictures and now everyone knows it. I guess a similar moral as the video chat situation is to be drawn: don’t be friends with a girl (especially one with awesome bikini pictures) unless you are boys enough to creepily “like” her picture.

Post Post Script: I recently discovered (through some trial and error with a friend) that you can “unlike” something which will erase any history of you having ever “liked” it in the first place. This just goes to show that (based on all the close calls I’ve had where I’ve almost clicked the “like” button and felt my stomach turn) awkwardness, or fear of awkwardness, can be entirely in your head. Touché, Clay. Awkward.

PPPS: I hate the whole “like” feature on Facebook. What’s the point of it again?


  1. I can independently verify that your research on the 'like' then 'unlike' is true, if done quickly enough after the accidental click there will be no record of you having done it at all.

  2. I think it would be interesting to apply your AIM buddy list philosophy to facebook friends. Facebook allows for far more sketchiness than other social-networking sites that I know of, like myspace, because of the "friend" notion and the constant (yet sometimes subtle) emphasis on privacy. I, like any other facebook user, have found myself perusing random people's photos out of habit. Eventually, I decided I wouldn't take part in this mindless sweep through unknown albums because, in a way, I felt it violated the album owners' privacy. The idea of a facebook 'friend' is (sadly) more intimate than the idea of a myspace 'friend.' This may be for a couple of reasons: for one, facebook has the sleek and comfortable look to it-- you constantly see what your friends are up to, your profile is easily edited, you may even have a couple of group invitations or friend requests from some people you know, and some you don't know as well. And as for those friend requests you don't know, you can reject them. Or maybe you sort of knew... limited profile. So far there haven't been any "ColLEGE SluTZXOX" sending friend requests or messages like there occasionally were on myspace. But as you look through someone's photos-- someone with whom you aren't "friends" but maybe you have a mutual friend or two tagged in an album-- you realize you're now a creeper. And you don't feel shame in it after a couple times-- there is no "punishment" for what doesn't seem 'right' or normal. You could write about it on a blog, and I and most readers could agree we've been equally 'sketchy.' But bottom line-- I don't actually want to be sketchy. I don't want to be some hyper-cybermoralist who looks back, chest swelled in pride, nostrils at full-hubristic flare and a gaze into the far-off saying to himself, "You were really quite the gentleman the way you refused to click any further." But I would like to be the person who doesn't find others's (i.e. people I don't know or am at least facebook 'friends' with) photos, lives, business of great importance to myself. Knowing what I don't need to know is not the issue as much as it is knowing I don't probe into somebody's personal property for a quick minute to 5 minute photo-viewing satisfaction. And I wonder if there is more to this whole business than just personal opinion. I feel as though it might be a matter of real principle... Your thoughts?

  3. Very very interesting. I agree. I find it somewhat analogous to reading glamour magazines about celebrities, looking at paparazzi photos, or checking out You know you have no business knowing such details about these people's lives but you continue to obsess. It's sickening, really. That's kind of what facebook has done, except in a much more subtle and sneaky way: it's made everyone into their own celebrity (assuming they have enough followers/stalkers). It's weird if you think about it: even if you're friends with someone, do you really want to find out about their trip to the Bahamas before they tell you about it through some photo album? I guess you could argue they do accept people as their friends, knowing what they're getting into and post the pictures so people can look at them, but I don't know. Simply in a sense of personal dignity, something about that doesn't quite seem right...

  4. And I think there is some sort of shame associated with it. I know when someone (whether it be my parents or a roommate) walks in on me when I'm looking at someone on facebook or someone's pictures, I immediately bring up another window and try to cover it up. If I don't do this, I feel this impinging guilt and hope that he quickly brings up a topic of conversation. I feel this way even if it's not creeping through some sketchy girl's photos that I shouldn't be looking at. I think this is because we all know there's something wrong with spending our lives obsessing with other people's lives especially hiding behind the screen and doing so. At the very least we owe it to ourselves to get out there and interact. Isn't it a strange thought that while you're on facebook at school (or wherever) there are probably 30 people you're aquatinted with that are on facebook as well at the same time, being equally sketchy. So why doesn't everyone just close the screen, stop obsessing with the digital version of people, and at the very least get to know (and perhaps even obsess with!) these people. Sorry if this didn't directly address what you said, I just really agree with what you said and think you said it quite nicely so I don't want to repeat it.

  5. With the introduction of relatively low cost, high capacity broadband telecommunication services in the late 1990s, coupled with powerful computing processors and video compression techniques, videoconferencing has made significant inroads in business, education, medicine and media. Companies like provide a very good system for the video conference.