In most ways, our phones, devices, and other technological gadgets have made our lives easier and more convenient. In other ways, they have created some interesting and uniquely new challenges, especially when it comes to notifications.
One of the unique challenges of having your whole life on a device with a mind of its own is that our devices don’t quite have the same discretion as we do when it comes to what parts of our lives to share at what times and in front of whom.
There is nothing more awkward, or at times hilarious, than something that was meant to be private just being blurted out in public by a machine that doesn’t even realize it’s doing anything wrong. And nothing can be more mortifying for the owners of these machines whose private and personal information is now the subject of our collective amusement.
Here are 42 memorable stories about awkward times that phones and other devices chose to have a message pop up at the worst time in front of the wrong people.
42. Bad Timing
My best friend in high school was in the process of being grounded and having his phone taken away, and as he was handing over his phone to his mom he got a text from me that said "Hey, I found your mom's bedroom toy" accompanied with a picture of a medieval battering ram. He told me that they both saw it right as the transaction was taking place, then held each other’s gaze silently for what he described as an eternity.
41. Was It a Match?
My ex's Tinder notification popped up on her phone while she was showing me her pics on holiday. That was funny…
40. His Bread and Butter
The reminder “Bread BREAD I AM NOT PLAYING WITH YOU. BREAD.” popped up on my phone during a business meeting.
I’m not fully sure, but I believe this was a drunken reminder I had set for myself to remember to buy bread. I found it amusing until I noticed my client’s blank stare.
39. Innermost Thoughts
I was showing my friend this dream interpretation app and how it worked. I clicked on a random day to show him how it keeps a history for you and he yelled, "YOU DREAMT ABOUT DIARRHEA?!"
38. Keeping Things Under Control
I was letting my coworker share/borrow my laptop and my birth control reminder popped up while he was using it. I'm extremely immature, so the message just says "BIRTH CONTROL" with the location set to "YO MOUTH"...
37. Does the Missus Know About This?
I once accidentally showed a nude photo of my fiancé to a receptionist. It was my first time on site and I needed to show him a pic of where I'd be working as I didn't know where it was on site. So I open my gallery and lo and behold, my missus’ naked body was right there. I just stepped back and apologized but he didn't say anything...
36. Think Before You Name Your Group Chats, People!!
Well I’m active in a group chat called “shawarma sluts” and my mom saw a notification once. Fun!
35. No Time Like the Present
When hubby and I were starting our fertility struggle, I downloaded one of those apps that tracks your period and ovulation and such. It occasionally would send messages saying it was a good time for intimacy.
As I did dishes, surrounded by 6 aunts and uncles, my 90-year-old grandmother, my parents, and a mess of older cousins, my phone dinged. Thinking it was about a work emergency that had popped up, I asked my uncle nearest my phone to grab it and read it off to me while I scrubbed a pot.
"Your phone says it's a good time to have sex....?" Oh, the laughter.
34. Keep Scrolling Along…
I was showing my mother-in-law pics from my phone. When I swiped to the next one, it was a close up picture that my husband had sent me of his genitals.
33. So That’s What You Really Think of Me, Huh?
I was with a group of friends and this person gave me their number. I often save people's names with a detail that reminds me of who they are—such as James From Chicago, for example.
So this person was talking nonstop about their yacht when I met them. So I wrote something like "Gary Hasayacht" as their name in my contacts.
Anyway, he sent me a text but it didn't go to my phone for a while because we had a bad signal. Then it popped up when my phone was in clear view right in front of me.
He sees the text, and his name as its listed on my phone, and then goes “You know, it's really not that big of a yacht”...
I wanted to sink into the floor, he definitely thought I was hitting on him and/or a gold digger.
32. Well That’s Unfortunate
Driving with the ex-girlfriend. Robo spam email pops up as my phone is sitting on the dash, talking about trying to interest me in a booty call. It wasn't me. It was a fake message.
She didn't believe me.
31. Pop Quiz, Literally
I have a trivia quiz app on my phone. It’s pretty much a trivia game where you can play matches in different topics against random people. Sometimes if you follow someone, you get notifications that say, "Hey, [username] just posted in [topic], come check it out!" Given that this is the internet, however, you can imagine that some people give themselves crazy and inappropriate usernames as a joke.
So one time, in front of a friend, I got a pop-up notification that said "[very dirty username] just posted in Dirty DDLG Furry Roleplay, come check it out!"
I've turned notifications off since they started allowing people to create their own topics.
30. Is There More to This Story?
I'm a guy, and my male friend sent me an extremely explicit message as a joke in response to something I sent him. My dad was looking at the phone when the message arrived. That took some awkward explaining…
29. Constructive Criticism
I was waiting for a job interview and the interviewer was late. Being panicky and nervous for it already, I was texting my friend every detail of what was going on, which included the interviewer's lack of timeliness. He shows up, we talk, I'm showing him something on my phone, and my friend texts me back about how unprofessional it is to be late as an interviewer. I didn't get the job.
28. Family Planning...in Public
Happened to my BFF, she is a very organized person and has everything mapped out. We were both senior RAs in college and were watching movies in a common room with all of her freshman (male) residents. Halfway through the movie, this app pops up and says "Mary, you are ovulating today! Now is a great time to get pregnant!" They made fun of her for ages...
27. Total Eclipse of the Heart
I was showing a classroom full of young kids the solar eclipse on my phone, on an overhead projector. My husband’s name is Lover Boy on my phone. In the middle of the presentation, naturally, he texts. I swiped it away real quick but some of those eight-year-olds caught what it said and laughed at me. So did the substitute teacher.
26. Inside Jokes
One of my friends was showing her professor something on her phone and right as she handed her the phone, she got a message in our group chat from a friend who we nicknamed "I want private part pasta." Don’t even ask what it actually means…
25. Keep Your Friends Close and Your Frenemies Closer
There’s this obnoxious couple my wife and I know and don’t particularly care for, so we named them "Filthy Nozzle" and "Nozzle's Sucker" on my phone.
I was at UPS and the cashier needed to look at my phone for a shipping address. There, she saw a notification from "Nozzle’s Sucker" and I can tell she tried not to smirk.
24. Necessity is the Mother of Invention
My best friend and I used to have a code word for situations where we shouldn’t be sending each other inappropriate stuff. So whenever one of us sent the word “Crisco,” it means someone was looking at our phone and keep it PG. We started this system because one time my dad was fixing my phone and she sent, in all caps: “DID YOU KNOW THAT IN ANCIENT TIMES SOME PEOPLE USED ANIMAL FAT FOR ANAL INTIMACY???”
23. Eyes on the Road!
I work with my dad and when I drive, I have my phone in a cup holder next to the wheel. Anyway, my fiancé texted me something like "I can’t wait to get you into bed tonight" or something like that. My dad saw and just gave a nervous chuckle. I mean, what else is he supposed to do in that situation?
22. Genuine Concern for a Friend’s Wellbeing
I'm in a group chat whose name changes all the time for jokes, depending on the season. The name this time was, "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?"
I was out walking around and a friend came up behind me, saw it, and asked if I was OK, if I needed a doctor, or if maybe I had a UTI, etc. I didn't know what to tell him and just quickly walked away.
21. Joint Accounts, Joint Problems
I was at work giving a presentation. My laptop was showing on the big screen. I had neglected to turn off the Dropbox app. My friend, with whom I shared a folder, uploaded a file to it.
The message box popped up on screen:
“The file ‘Hey, Butthead.wav’ has been uploaded to your Dropbox.”
20. Can’t He See the Humor in It?
Father-in-law and I are looking at a picture on my phone.
Wife texts me, a banner pops up on the top of the phone saying "I've been a bad girl... I need a spanking!"
Dude looked at me, so I answered, "What kind of daughter did you raise?"
He didn't laugh as hard as I think he should have.
19. She’s Still Being Rehabilitated From Getting This Message
My new boss was sitting at my desk on my computer and my phone started ringing. The screen said REHAB. I forgot that I had put that number in after I finished rehab a long while back just in case I ever needed it. I was soooo mortified. Thinking fast, I said my sister just called from a rehab program and asked if I could be excused to go call her back.
18. Sounds Like an A+
I got subscribed to Yandy Lingerie texts after I ordered something from there. Really annoying as they don’t tell you how to unsubscribe.
I was at my job as a teacher and a parent was looking at some of the pictures I had taken of the field trip we took the kids on, when a message pops up saying “SEXY CROTCHLESS PANTIES ON SALE!”
I was mortified.
17. Background Check
Well, my current boyfriend (then just friend) and I were looking at my phone, looking something up. Lo and behold the last thing I had searched for was his name, trying to find out more about him on Google. It was definitely awkward when I heard him say “Why did you Google me?” It’s funny now, but was so awkward then!
16. Business Before Pleasure
The first couple of months of my marriage we lived in different states because there was no sense in moving my husband out of the barracks for three months. I was working fast food at the time and was walking up to the front of the store while closing when I got a text from him. Naturally, I opened it and it was a photo of his you-know-what. My manager was behind me and started yelling about inappropriate texting at work.
15. Too Much Information
My GF at the time messaged me about how ferocious her period was this month. My friend saw it and his reaction was priceless.
14. That’s Quite the Message
At dinner sitting next to my sister-in-law, my birth control reminder came up on my phone screen. She noticed first and promptly asked me why my phone was displaying a reminder for "I Hate Babies"...
13. You’re the Only Ten I See
My friend and I like to make fun of cheesy pickup lines we would hear. One time I was showing my brother something on Amazon when I get a text from the aforementioned friend saying: "Let me put some ranch on them lips, pretty mama."
My bro just looked at me awkwardly and walked away.
12. Terms of Endearment
I was at the Apple store having a screen protector put on my phone when my fiancé texted. The Apple guy was like, “Uhhhh, ‘Daddy with heart emojis’ texted you???” I was mortified.
11. Broadcasting Your Medical Records
I started sleeping with a girl I worked with a couple of years back. We drunkenly hooked up one night after some post-work drinks. Before anything goes down, she tells me she's on the pill. I, being stupid and drunk, am happy that I don't have to wear a condom.
Anyway, the following week I decide to checked, just in case. No symptoms thankfully, it had just been a while. The clinic tells me that they'll text me the results. The test includes everything from chlamydia to HIV.
All goes as normal and me and the girl are chilling in bed one afternoon, just watching TV after some afternoon delight.
We're watching something cast from my phone on to my TV. Can't remember exactly why but it was mirrored, not cast normally.
The first text from the clinic comes in... and hits the screen.
"Hi, this is the results for you recent sexual health check-up. You will receive one text for each test you took. The results of your HIV test were..."
And that's where the message preview stopped.
I felt her tense up next to me. She clearly is now more than a little worried that she has just had unprotected intercourse with someone who could be HIV positive.
I scramble to show her the rest of the message, which thankfully showed me as being HIV negative. Fortunately, she sees the funny side.
And then the three or four other texts came in and we cheered at the negative results as each one did. Good times!
10. Siri, Never Let Me Show My Face at Work Again
I was riding in the car with a coworker when my wife texted. Told Siri to read the message out. Huge mistake. It turns out she had texted to whine and complain to me about how I was constantly leaving a ton of pubic hairs in the shower drain and needed to stop from now on. Suffice it to say this was not exactly my proudest moment…
9. Some Things Never Change…
A friend of mine had a dude listed in her phone as “Tinder Guy With Glasses.” This worked great for her until he became more of a long-term thing in her life and she never bothered to change it. She'd been on a bit of a serial one-night-stand kick for a while and found that it was easier for her to have descriptions of all the guys on her phone rather than their names to keep track of who was who. After all, she knew who he was. She knew his name. She thought he was great, and she left her days of online promiscuity behind her largely to be with him. What difference did it make?
Well, he eventually found out when she lost her phone and he called it, only to find he'd been sitting on it all along. By all accounts, she was absolutely mortified when he handed it back to her with that Caller ID on the screen.
8. True Colors Shining
My BF has a friend that I have always suspected is in love with him. Once she was showing me something on her phone and a text from her mom popped up saying “I still don’t understand why you can’t get with [BF’s name].” We pretended it didn’t happen.
7. I Hope You Were Taking Notes
It wasn't me, but my professor used to have his laptop hooked up to the projector up in front of the class. While he was going through a presentation one day, a text popped up on his screen from a woman and all it said was "I have herpes.” He stopped connecting his laptop to the projector after that.
6. Hopefully This Never Happens to Anyone Again
I was showing my grandmother pictures from my trip to Washington State. We were having a great time as I was going through the pictures I took at Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, and the Puget Sound ferry.
Right in the middle of a great picture, my wife texts me about wanting to try out our new bedroom toy. It was literally just the smiling devil emoji and the words "Want to try out the new bedroom toy?" I don't think I've ever blushed so red in my entire life.
5. Nothing to Hide
Oh boy, I have one and it is famous at my company now. I was the one to see the notification.
I teach English in China and two years ago I arrived at my first job about a month late thanks to visa issues. I survive the first two days OK and now it’s Friday and I get invited to a co-worker’s apartment to hang out, have a beer and meet some other expats. There's just a handful of us chatting and drinking casually.
Sometime later people have walked off or called it a night and it’s just me, a guy and a girl sitting on a couch. The guy shows me his phone, he wants to show me this mobile game that's very popular here in China. As he's doing this, a message pops up. It reads:
"I want your body in my mouth right now." It’s from the other girl in the room.
Me and the guy make brief eye contact immediately and then I look at her. She goes beet red and leaves the room. I'm then informed that I am the second person other than them in the company to know that the two of them are an item. She wasn't a shy girl at all and we now frequently make reference to this event.
And here’s a bonus happy ending: Mr. Body and Ms. Mouth are getting married this summer too!
4. Over-Staying Their Welcome?
My in-laws are EXTREMELY religious, and we just got them their first iPhone—the first smartphone they’ve ever had. In the middle of me showing her parents how WeatherBug works—we were outside smoking, wife was not—she texted me a spread eagle shot of herself from the bedroom with the words "I can’t wait for them to leave so I can literally go to town on you in bed". Let’s just say things got very awkward. It may have been small as heck on the banner, but they were both wearing their glasses and paying very close attention. Nevertheless, not a single word was said about it and they left 15 minutes later.
3. A Seller's Market
Not exactly an electronic device, but same idea. I like trying out new and different things sometimes to keep “sexy time” with my wife fresh and interesting. One time, I thought it would be fun to write her a letter requesting that when I get home that night, she is to be on all fours wearing a certain less than modest garment. So I place the letter on the kitchen counter before leaving the house, expecting her to see it and follow the instructions by the time I get back.
Around 3:00 pm, my wife and I receive a group message. Turns out our landlord (who we gave permission to always come in as he wished, he was a great old guy) stopped by to show off the house to a buyer. I don’t connect the dots or think anything of it. I'm still expecting sexy time. Eventually, she comes home, sees the letter, but also sees the kitchen sink was fixed.
No sexy time. She is convinced he, or they, read the letter. She is not an exhibitionist apparently. I still to this day can't look my ex-landlord in the eye without laughing.
2. Caught Red-Handed
My then boyfriend had let me use his iPad to watch a movie on Netflix. He had his messenger account linked to both his tablet and his phone, and messages kept popping up on it while I was watching without him realizing I could see. I got to watch in real time as he got his best friend's wife to agree to sleep with him over the coming holiday weekend; with the promise that he'd get rid of me for that weekend so they could get intimate in our bed.
1. Thin Wall, Huge Separation
My fiancée at the time—three months from the wedding—used to use my laptop all the time for social media and stuff while she was watching TV. She comes to me one night and says she thinks stuff isn't working out and that we should talk about whether we should really continue. I'd not felt any problems that I didn't just dismiss as wedding planning/financial stress. So I explained that and she said she wanted to sleep in the spare room that night to think things through, to which I agreed.
I wasn't very happy with it at all, so I decided to go get my device and watch some YouTube before bed. She had her Facebook left open on my user account—completely normal. Then I see a notification from her ex-colleague.
She was live-sexting him with just a thin wall between us. I instantly knew I'd never forgive that, got dressed, quietly snuck away into my car and drove to my mum’s. She didn't even realize I knew for days. Didn't speak to her at all after that. All communication was through her own parents, who were devastated.