It’s the morning after an evening full of holiday enjoyment. You wake up bleary-eyed, grab your phone and, with a creeping embarrassment, discover all the tipsy messages or posts you fired off the night before.
Relatable? Maybe. avoidable? Yes.
Don’t forget that digital missteps can cause temporary awkwardness or very real devastation. Whether you’re attending the company Christmas party or preparing for a New Year’s Eve soiree, a smartphone game plan could protect your personal and professional life. It makes it harder for you to text, call others, or post pictures that you — and your involuntary contacts — might later regret.
Drunk texting predates smartphones. what’s new The device settings that allow you to set up a lock between your thumbs and other people’s screens. Social media apps have also added helpful tools to ensure any crawling posts that slip through the cracks have a limited and forgiving audience.
The catch: Before the first sip you have to prepare everything.
“You should go to the party prepared,” said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, an executive and business training company. “You have to do things pre-emptively to have more time between your thoughts and your actions. Don’t leave anything to chance.”
Make these smartphone features and apps your first line of defense.
The most powerful tools can effectively block you from making calls and SMS.
iPhone users can block incoming and outgoing phone calls, FaceTime calls, and messages with all but your most important (i.e., emergency) contacts. And you can choose a time frame to cover your behavior for just the night.
To set communication limits, go to Settings > Screen Time > Communication Limits > During Downtime > Specific Contacts. Choose which contacts you want to access at any time. Then, to choose what hours you want to be incommunicado, go to Settings > Screen Time > Downtime.
Downtime is different from Do Not Disturb and other focus modes as it interrupts communication in both directions. It also makes most other apps inaccessible for the duration so it could prevent social media plots.
Once downtime is enabled, you can only reach your specified contacts. If you try to call or text others, their names or numbers will appear in red in your recent calls or messages list and your communication will not go through. To undo this you would have to go back to the downtime setting and turn it off. Setting a Screen Time password can increase friction.
Android phones have a focus mode that lets you select apps you want to pause so you can’t use them for a time slot. Go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls > Focus Mode. You can set a schedule for it to turn on automatically.
Delete or block contacts
“If you see certain names on your phone, you may need to text,” Ms. Gottsman said. “Once false confidence takes over, boom – you hit send.”
Consider writing down the contact information of everyone with red flags and tucking it in a desk drawer. Then erase their information from your phone before heading out. If you want to keep them, change their names to something like “Do not text this number.”
If you are more afraid that they will contact you, you can block their numbers by going to their last message or call. This is easy to undo.
Enter an app
When temptation is high and willpower low, you can use apps to limit your mishaps. They’re often more cumbersome than built-in smartphone tools, but could potentially help more.
AppBlock, available for iPhone and Android, lets you choose specific apps and app categories that you want to block temporarily. In the free version you can select up to three apps. While AppBlock is running, a pop-up will prevent you from opening it.
For $1.99 iPhone users can install the Drunk Mode Keyboard. It allows you to open your social networking apps, but once activated it blocks your keyboard to prevent you from commenting and sending DMs.
Bacco—Drunk Mode for Android users is available for free on the Google Play Store. It allows users to refrain from typing words that could get them into trouble. (You pick the words.) The word appears as a series of asterisks instead. It also blocks access to certain apps unless you can pass a sobriety test using riddles and patterns.
Limit your audience
If your biggest concern is an involuntary social media outburst, most major apps have guardrail features to restrict who sees what you post and how long it’s visible for at all. You can make your account private, which could protect you — unless one of your approved inner-circle friends takes a screenshot.
You can also share posts with a smaller crowd by creating a list of close friends on Instagram or a list of Select followers with Twitter Circle.
Facebook and TikTok make it easy to limit your post to one audience: yourself.
On Facebook, tap Settings & Privacy > Settings > Audience & Visibility > Posts > Who can see your future posts? Tap “Only me” – but don’t forget to change this back later if you actually want an audience.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What precautions are you taking to protect yourself from excessive texting and sharing? Join the conversation below.
On TikTok, go to Privacy > Engagements and change your default audience for Stories (which are viewable for 24 hours) and Duets (remixes of other creators’ videos) to just me. For your top TikTok video posts, tap Who Can View This Video before sharing, then select Only Me. The app remembers this setting.
withdraw and edit messages
If you send an unwanted SMS, you might be able to reverse course. But you must act quickly.
Apple’s latest iPhone software allows users to recall recently sent iMessages within two minutes – even after the person has seen or even replied to them. Long-press the text bubble you want to recall and tap Unsend to remove the message from your phone and the recipient’s device.
If you just want to tweak the text, Apple gives you 15 minutes. From the same menu, tap Edit.
But it doesn’t get any better than that. The recipient must be running iOS 16 or later for both to work, and for edited text, recipients can just tap to see your original words.
Although Android SMS doesn’t have a built-in unsend feature, WhatsApp gives you two days to delete messages from other people’s inboxes. But there’s no guarantee they haven’t already seen your words or pictures.
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Write to Dalvin Brown at [email protected]
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