I’m not in the running for Ms. Manners’ job, or anything, but I did want to write a quick post on the etiquette of Facebook chat. Now, for those of you who use Facebook often (and there are more than 450 million people doing that each day), you know that Facebook offers a chat function, which lets you send instant, quick messages to whomever you happen to be chatting with.
I think this is a fun way to have conversations with your friends, and can take the place of instant messenger, text messages, and other similar modes, provided that your friends are on Facebook and have chat enabled as well.
I recently disabled chat on my Facebook account- and here’s why:
It’s mainly because people have poor chat etiquette. On multiple occasions over the past month, each time I’ve logged in, I’ve been bombarded with chat messages from random men. This is the downside of having a reasonably open social network. I tend to accept most friendship requests on Facebook, figuring I’ll worry about the 5,000 friend limit when I get there. That being said, I am starting to use my fan page more, and may shift to just using my personal profile for direct friends and people I’ve met.
But I digress.
Let’s talk about the reasons I disabled Facebook chat. As I said, it was because I was getting annoyed by the constant, intrusive instant messages from random men which all seemed intent on asking me for a date or something even less polite. I’m not sure why there was this uprush of attention, all of a sudden- I didn’t suddenly change my profile pictures, get incredibly better looking, or anything. But it was starting to happen so much that it was irritating me. It was annoying to login and get these rash of messages constantly popping up on my screen. It would make a “quick check” of Facebook take much longer than it needed to.
So here’s the thing. If you are using Facebook chat, I would submit that basic rules of communication etiquette still apply. If you are attempting to chat with someone you don’t know, I suggest you think twice about doing that. But, if you do reach out, why not start by saying hello and checking in with that person about whether or not it’s a good time to chat? If you truly want to make some kind of connection with that person, tell him or her why you wanted to connect, and give them the option of connecting with you in some other way.
Just like if you were to call someone on the phone, you might make sure that it was a good time to connect; I suggest that Facebook chat etiquette should follow these same rules. Similarly, if you are involved in a Facebook chat and need to end it, give the person some warning that you’ll need to sign off shortly.
While all this may sound obvious, I have observed people throwing common sense and good manners out the window as they take part in social media.
And that makes you look like a complete jerk.