Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy row – Is it ever a good idea to accuse a friend on social media?

October 9, 2019 3:42:17 PM

Coleen Rooney has sensationally taken to Twitter to accuse friend and fellow WAG Rebekah Vardy of leaking information from her private Instagram to the tabloids.

The star, who is married to footballer Wayne Rooney, told her 1.3 million followers that she has spent five months attempting to work out who was sharing information about her and her family based on information she had posted on her personal social media page.

And, following a process of elimination, Rooney says she worked out it was her friend Vardy – married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.

Vardy has since posted that she “never” speaks to journalists about her, saying she was “so upset” that Rooney had made the accusation, adding: “I’m disgusted that I’m even having to deny this. You should have called me the first time this happened.”

Whatever actually happened, it’s hard to imagine a friendship recovering from such a public accusation.

So is taking to social media to vent your anger at a friend ever the best course of action?  We spoke to psychologist Honey Langcaster-James on the impact this kind of response can have on your friendship – and your own wellbeing.

You’re right to be upset – a friend fall-out is distressing 

“Falling out with a friend is actually really quite painful emotionally and really stressful,” says Langcaster-James. “Your friends in adulthood are very precious because it isn’t easy as an adult to forge new friendships – so there can be a real loss when a friendship goes horribly wrong. And the emotional distress that can cause can sometimes lead people to behave rashly.”

What this pain might cause you to do is log onto your social media account and vent without thinking it through first.

No matter how angry you are, speak to your friend first 

“If you have any interest in maintaining the friendship, it’s a good idea to speak to them directly first before taking to social media,” she says. “Once you do that you escalate the problem, everybody else gets to put their opinions in the mix . It’s like trial by social media, rather than actually getting to the heart of what may or may not have happened.”

She says it’s natural to want to talk about it with friends or family members to discuss your suspicions but that it’s “really important to go to the horse’s mouth” to address the issue.

“And only then, if you’re not getting the answers that you want, or an apology or an explanation, should you involve anybody else. Because once you’ve done that it can be the kiss of death to a friendship – there can be no going back.”

Rooney and Vardy
Rooney and Vardy together (John Walton/PA)

You might feel validated immediately – but the long-term damage could be worse

“You’re upset, angry, betrayed, but when we do react on social media quickly, it is because we’re in a heightened emotional state,” says Langcaster-James. “There can be an emotional release that comes with making a post on social media when you are really angry or upset. Some people do say they felt better venting and getting things off their chest.”

However, she explains, the problem with social media is that once it’s out there you can’t control the responses.

“There will be some people who might be critical of your decision to air your dirty laundry in public. So a time when you are already feeling emotionally vulnerable might not be the time when you want to deal with other people’s opinions about what you should and shouldn’t be doing to manage your friendship or the conflict.”

But don’t be surprised if you want to do a Rooney-style Twitter take down because Langcaster-James says it’s a “normal human response when you believe you’ve been wronged to want to tell others to get validation”.

You might have jumped to conclusions 

There are always two sides to a story,” she warns. “Sometimes we think someone’s wronged us and they haven’t –  but once you’ve made it public, you could end up becoming the perpetrator when you actually felt like the victim.”

There may not be a way back after a public take down 

Such a public fall out can leave a “very bad taste” for a long time to come, she says. “The problem is, even if you might recover from it with your friend, because you’ve made it public everybody else will have thoughts and feelings about it which can come back to haunt you in the future.”