Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Social Media Blunders As Plot Points

Social media is a fact of life these days. It's fun to connect with old friends, and to make new ones. But along with all the benefits come plenty of dangers.

We can use real-life social media blunders in our fiction. I've listed a few ideas below. We've seen the consequences of some of these blunders play out on national news, and I've heard of these happening at local schools.

Feel free to use what you want!

  1. Snarky cat fight or relationship squabble in a public forum. Everyone sees it & knows their business.
  2. Character posts on Facebook or Twitter that they're home alone. Danger comes knocking.
  3. Character is unknowingly being videotaped in a compromising position. That video is posted online. It goes viral.
  4. Character sends a personal text to someone which is then forwarded to a wide audience.
  5. Character posts something inappropriate, like a comment or photo, which is then seen by their dream date, college, or job. Dream date, job, or college then dumps the character.
  6. Character sends a text, email, or direct message meant for one person, but it's received by another. Think of the one person who should not read this message.
  7. Character has an intimate text conversation with someone, only to realize the person on the other end was a group of friends playing a prank. Character is the laughingstock at school.
  8. A Facebook post, a tweet or an email falsely incriminates the character in a crime. 
  9. The character connects with a stranger online, then meets with him alone in person. Online person is a creeper. Or her father. Or her chemistry teacher. Or her boyfriend.
  10. Character posts a photo or video of someone committing crime/doing drugs. Thugs want revenge.
  11. Character sends naked picture of herself on Twitter or via text, and it goes viral.
Social media blunders have broken up marriages, brought down powerful leaders, and caused suicides. They've resulted in embarrassing ripples at school, and rocked entire communities. 

Unless you write historical fiction, versions these blunders can be used as inciting incidents, subplots, and major plot points. Our characters can be forced to learn what we've learned: have fun, but beware.

Have you ever used a social media blunder in your fiction? Do you recognize any of these from your own community, or from the national news? Are there any you'd like to add to the list? Please share!


  1. those are all great plot ideas, Julz!

  2. All of those blunders make me cringe!

    I do write historical fiction. Notes (love or war notes) secretly passed to the wrong party are always a great plot, or a signed calling card found in another woman's apron could stir a real cat fight.

    Fun post!

  3. Ah, social media, offering whole new ways for people to be mean to each other.

  4. What an interesting idea. I've used some social media, but sparingly, as the technology changes so fast and I don't want to end up dated. But your ideas seem like they are all related to stuff that is likely to change. could be fun!

  5. A couple of years ago, I read a book and wasn't sure why the MC didn't threaten an adult with social media. It seemed like it would be more realistic. However, a couple of weeks ago, I read a book written in the 90's and the technological references were so outdated it made me laugh. Still, I know what a floppy is and I wonder if a kid reading YA for the first time today would. That makes me think twice about including tech references in my ms.

  6. What a great idea, Julie! Let's hope all ours will be imaginary ones :)

  7. What a great idea, Julie! Let's hope all ours will be imaginary ones :)

  8. I completely agree social media is a dangerous place to be in this day and age. It keeps on getting more advanced. The more advanced technology = more dangers out in this world.

    I don't have FB and Twitter account because it is THAT dangerous. I like staying in the Blogosphere where you can find your place to fit in. BUT being in the Blogosphere comes with its own dangers: spam and ad comments and perhaps, rude comments.

    Any social media is dangerous in its own way. You just gotta be careful what you post. If you're promoting others in a GOOD way, you'll most likely have the advantage because it isn't spam advertising!

    Great post and very eye-opening! Thanks, Julie! :)

  9. I should take one of these for a story prompt for tomorrow! Thanks!

    -adds to weekly round-up-

  10. Sadly, I recognize some of these from the news. There are certainly a lot of ways one can self-destruct using social media.

  11. These examples are all great springboards. Sadly, in elementary school we are already facing the tragedy of cyber bullying through social media sites that the kids should be too young to even be using.

  12. Thanks for your input. Yes, these scenarios are definitely scary and all too real!

  13. These are great, J! As Leslie mentioned, I think there's a lot of good/sad stuff to explore with social media.

  14. No, but I accidentally sent a text about my publisher TO my publisher when it was meant for my best friend. Luckily, it was a super nice text! Sure would have been embarrassing otherwise. They never even knew I screwed up. Whew!!!!

  15. This is a very positive way at looking at things that might otherwise be frustrating.

  16. Words are darned powerful. That's for sure. One thing I worry about is using sarcasm to be humorous, but having it mistaken for a true statement.

    Great list, Julie.

  17. you know, I've never actually thought about using some of these in my writing, but now that you mention it, they would make GREAT plot points! The one about the public cat fight, naked picture going viral, home alone--scary! These are great! Thanks for the lightbulbs, Julie! :D <3

  18. This is a great list. Not only do these scenarios have great plot or inciting incident potential, but they also have endless opportunities to reveal character. You are always so creative. Thanks for sharing!



  19. I used to try to avoid using technology in my writing, but now I take advantage of it. Our fast-paced world adds great momentum to a story. Yes, I've definitely seen these blunders in real life. Ugh!

  20. I haven't ever used this plot device but I know it happens in real life and emails too when people don't realize they're copying a bunch of people. Yikes!

  21. By the way, I wrote a one-page flash fiction based on one of these prompts. Should I post it in the comments?