What to do when “friends” post embarrassing photos online

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One of my ‘friends’ just posted a picture online of me spooning a tree – it’s so embarrassing!! What do I do?

There are two issues here: one is that your online presence just got a little more weird and the other is that your “friend” isn’t being very friendly.

The importance of keeping an appropriate and personalized online “brand” cannot be overstated. Potential employers and romantic interests are heading to the Internet more and more to scope out your details. Unless you are working for Aborophilia International, you likely wouldn’t enjoy this photo to be publicly available.

If you live in an area where tree spooning is illegal, it is always possible to contact the website directly to ensure that the offending picture is taken down immediately. Facebook also has an option to “Remove Tag,” so that even if it isn’t illegal, a compromising photo isn’t linked to your profile directly.

Unfortunately, the photo is still property of the person who took it, so you will also need to do some damage control with your friend.

Often simply stating how you’re feeling about the photo and (if possible) why, will be enough to have your friend permanently delete the file. If they don’t agree (and sometimes even if they do), you’ll need to ask yourself some important questions. How damaging is the photo to you, realistically? Is tree-spooning an activity that occurs frequently, and if so, is it worth it to continue? Are you feeling disrespected by your friend?

Likely, some damage has already been done; however, take some time to consider the future – can you trust this person to not repeat this again? Remember that friendships, like all relationships, can be rocky sometimes – hopefully this will be something to laugh about when you’re sitting around, 20 years from now!

Also, trees have feelings, too. Don’t be insensitive; call the next day.

As per usual, feel free to talk with a counsellor about any issues you may have! If you have a question for a counsellor, you can also e-mail it to sjcounsellor@unb.ca, and see it featured here!