Whoops: When You Make an Embarrassing Mistake Online
Have you ever posted something with a mistake that seems so utterly horrible that you just want to huddle under your blankie and suck your thumb?
Like the one time I recommended my readers eat “crap” instead of “carp?”
I’m sure I’m not the only person who has sent out emails or published posts with typos or standard text, who sent the wrong link, who publicly made a blooper, or who spelled something wrong in a headline.
It feels like the absolute end of the world. It’s awful and it’s ALL you can think about.
I’ve made some absolute doozies.
Just to make you feel better, here are some of the highlights…er…lowlights.
One time, when making dietary recommendations to an audience of tens of thousands of people in a guest post for a huge website, I suggested that they eat CRAP instead of CARP. I stepped away from my computer and that typo was up for hours and it was all the folks in the comments section could talk about.
I thought I was going to die of embarrassment. I sent a panicked message to the editor and got the typo corrected. I had to respond to the to the general hilarity in the comments section, so I joked, “I guess this sums up my strong feelings about fish.” Then, deeply chagrined, I just carried on. Probably, I am the only person who even remembers it.
Then there was another time that I sent out an email to 10,000 people and AWeber had autocorrected my headlines back to “PUT HEADLINE HERE.” I’ve sent other emails out promising a link to something wonderful…and forgot to put in the link. I have even completely forgotten to put in a subject line before.
This one is really, really bad. Once, I saved a photo of a prominent politician with a terribly unflattering caption…not realizing until after I published the article that when someone tried to right click and save on the photo, the words “heinous harpy shrew” were out there for the whole internet to see. (I know you’re all dying to know who was in the photo, but I’m not telling.)
And these are just a few. When you publish every day for 6 years, trust me, you’re going to have embarrassing moments.
Even the big kahunas make mistakes
But…on Black Friday 2017, McDonald’s sent out this tweet to their 3.52 million followers.
Not only did they send it out, there were loads of articles about their error. It was the story of the day on all sorts of business websites.
But the next day, people were still lining up in the drive-thru for their Egg McMuffins and hash browns. McDonald’s will still sell a kabillion Quarter Pounders. This was not the end of the world. It didn’t damage their business. People got a chuckle out of it and then probably forgot it ever happened. (Except me. I cherish the daylights out of that Tweet because it makes me feel better to know that corporations worth nearly 130 billion dollars can make mistakes like that to.)
So, when it happens to you, remember this.
Focus on what you’re going to do next, not on what you did that wasn’t perfect.
If there’s a way you can fix it, do so. Use humor if possible, eat crow if you must.
Then MOVE ON.
I see people beating up on themselves all the time for small mistakes that seem like massive, earth-shattering, business-ending disasters but in another year, you’ll be like me – the only one who remembers telling a whole bunch of people eager for my advice to dine on crap.
This kind of stuff happens to everyone – even billion dollar corporations.
So, in light of that, you should be a little more gentle with yourself.