Proper Etiquette for Leaving a Facebook Conversation

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You totally sure about this?
"John Smith left the conversation."

For some, these words a simple fact of messaging via social media. For others, them's fightin' words. Every since Facebook gave people the power to exit a group message sent to them, they have loomed large over anyone who dares send one. Is it the easy way out of a conversation you didn't want into in the first place or a breach of "netiquette?" Sometimes, it's both. Of course, there isn't anything inherently wrong with vacating a message thread, but because Facebook decides to tell those stragglers left behind that you did leave, it can get a little awkward.

All things being equal, no one should really leave a Facebook conversation shared through a private message. Sure, it's the opt out we all wish we had when coworkers or family members continue to Reply All over and over again, but it is also the Internet version of turning around and walking away in the middle of someone's sentence, something very few of us would do during polite conversation. Frankly, this could all be solved if Facebook would simply remove the notification, but since that isn't an option, there are some guidelines you might want to follow if you are thinking of uninviting yourself from a conversation.

Before leaving, try turing off your notifications or ignoring the message.

One of the common complaints is that people don't want to be forced to see messages pop up constantly or get notifications via e-mail or text. My first question to you: Why are you getting notifications for Facebook messages? Notifications of most kinds are far more annoying than what you are being notified about. Try turning that off or ignoring the message before leaving the dreaded "left the conversation" message.

Try not to be the first to leave.

This may sound ridiculous, but if you are always the first person to abandon a conversation, it says something about the level of respect you have for those in the conversation. If these are friends, in particular, hold out for a little longer. The conversation will probably peter out anyway and then no one will see you as the first person out the door.

Don't leave immediately after someone tries to be funny or sentimental.

This, to me, is probably the height of rudeness in this type of situation. It normally happens in a message thread that has a specific purpose -- coordinating an event, for example -- and someone decides to make a joke. Suddenly, there are a flood of "left the conversation" messages. That is the equivalent of saying, "You're an idiot, I'm leaving" to someone's face. Don't be that guy.

Always consider the source of the conversation.

There are some who wouldn't even notice if you left. But there are others, and we all know who these friends and family members are, who would take great offense at your retreat. Think of their feelings before your own in those circumstances. All you have to deal with is a notification. For them, it could mean hurt feelings or mixed messages about your relationship. They should toughen up, certainly, particularly online, but when you consider the use of the wrong emoticon or even the lack of using one in a text or e-mail can be grounds for a fight, it makes sense to proceed with caution.

If you do leave, send a message to the conversation initiator.

This is just a polite thing to do, particularly if the source of the conversation is a friend. Just letting them know you aren't leaving because you are annoyed or dislike them may not be necessary, but it is a friendly reminder of our shared human decency. And, like emoticons, it helps to clear up any confusion.

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3 comments
Rodney Barnes
Rodney Barnes

Who gives a shit? If I didn't show interest in being included in a conversation in person and someone tries to include me, then I tell them I'm not interested. I do the same in group conversations online. And stop trying to make this out as some sort of breach of etiquette when you excuse yourself. No one on the internet or in my personal life has a right to hear my opinion whether it's popular or not. Maybe I just haven't been privy to see such behavior online, though.

Irene Ali
Irene Ali

Haha Shawn Jivani...for next time :)

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