Help with the Instant Messages for You!

July/2004: Contact - Hello all, lately, I've been getting a lot of instant messages from people. Unfortunately, it seems that some individuals on this planet have no idea of how to instant message properly. All too often, people think of the instant message as a text "phone service." It's not. You don't use the same rules of communicate on IM that you do on the phone. Let me give you an example as we cover some of the sins you can commit on the IM.

Example #1. Thou Shalt Not Ask Dumb Questions:

What did John do wrong in the above? Obviously, the answer is the "What's up?" question. Please remove this question from your vocabulary. If I'm online, or if anyone is online, the answer is "I'm online." What would one expect me to say? "I'm here making pancakes and flipping flapjacks!" I'm on IM. I'm therefore online. That is what is up. As well, John goes on to commit the unpardonable sin of then repeating the same insipid question when I gave a curt answer. "How you doing?" is better than "What's up?" but not by much, and certainly not right after the first dumb question.

If you have no reason to contact someone other than to say "What's up", then you really should go find something to do, or stress those braincells to come up with an actual topic. However, even that can do dreadfully wrong.

Example #2. Thou Shalt Have Patience:

I hate to inform people that I am not a robot, but I'm not. Often, I have to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I go and get some Kool Aid (highly recommending the strawberry kiwi) which, I hate to inform people, is not an evil thing to do. Sometimes, I'm just playing fetch with my cat. The problem comes in when people think their topic is that important that I should respond right away. Again, this is not a phone. This is IM. It's "quicker email." If I don't respond fairly quickly, there's a good reason for it. It's not "I hate you" but "I'm busy with some other shit right now." I refuse to have to put up a "BRB BATHROOM!!!!" message. You guys don't need to know that.

I also am not responsible to TELL everyone I'm talking to at that point that I'm in the bathroom. IM'ing, when it's done right, is basically a tit-for-tat exchange. One person writes something, the other responds. Writing fifteen short sentences in a row is not what IM is about. Condense it into a paragraph and then wait. But hey, at least this person HAS a topic that COULD be interesting. When one doesn't, it's pointless and annoying.

Example #3. Thou Shalt Not Be Pointless Noob:

Yes, I am that guy with the website about the perverts. It's true. That is me. The website is called I get three of these IM's a day. Look, it's great that new people hit the site and take an interest in what we do. But when that interest is nothing more than "Hey, you're that guy aren't you!", it gets a little old, quickly. About 80% of the conversations don't progress beyond that. It's just "hey, you're that guy." I suppose it's semi-akin to what celebrities go through, which makes their hatred of the common public make a lot of sense. I'm so fucking glad I'm not suffering like they do on that. "Hey, you're that guy!" Ugh.

Don't get me wrong, love the support, it just means more when people go to the forums and post their support that way. It's awfully tiring when people don't understand that the site is a group effort, a team effort. Not the effort of any one person. But perhaps worse than the "one guy" conversations are the forgetful idiots out there.

Example #4. Thou Shalt Not Be A Forgetful Idiot:

This is far worse. Here you have a person who, in a fit of apparently meaningless fancy, added my name to their list. Then, when I have the audacity to pop on, it's time to be grilled on who I am. If you don't remember who I am, then you shouldn't give a shit to find out who I am, as it wasn't worth remembering to begin with. Just move on. It's not exactly a modern mystery marvel of the world. I often look at my list and think "Who the hell is that?" Then, immediately afterward, I delete the name. If they're not important enough to remember, they're not important enough to jog my memory about.

Yet I get an IM like this once a week. They get really angry when you ask them "Does it matter if you can't remember?", as apparently, I'm supposed to be really interested in having them remember who I am, so I can talk to them. I don't know them in the first place! But worse than that sort of defensiveness is the defensiveness of someone who simply doesn't grasp that not everyone has the same IM set-up.

Example #5. Thou Shalt Change Your Font:

I use Trillian. As you can tell, it's Black and Silver with a white background. That means that if you have a screamin' hot turquoise font, I can't read it. Same with giant yellow fonts. Even pink! The color of your text isn't important. Getting mad at me because I use a superior IM client is silly. Just change the color. The best thing to do is simply stick with the default color, as it will render as white or black depending on your background. Then, you can have conversations without fear of having to do anything! Isn't that great? Sure it is.

Please take heed of those five examples, and do not annoy individuals such as myself with such obviously silly IM habits. If you follow these examples, you too can be an expert IM'er! Just follow the five step process and you'll end up in a happy land full of text and proper conversation.