You chat via something like Microsoft Messenger, or Skype. You talk about stuff, then you go. You don’t say goodbye. You come back on-line, you see a friend and you ask a question, followed with: “Hi, BTW!”
This happened for the umpteenth time on Thursday while IM’ing with David Bradley over at Significant Figures, and he made the observation that with the help of IM (Instant Messaging), the Net’s become this huge virtual office where we say neither hello nor goodbye anymore.
We skip the pleasantries and go straight to the question or the dialogue. It’s as if we’re still on dial-up and every byte counts.
We engage in conversation using the social rules as mandated by the unwritten laws of ‘Netiqette.
Tears against the photocopier
To the casual web debutant, I have to wonder if this ‘efficiency’ of modern electronic communication appears rude.
Some people use shorthand to the extreme, what with the voluminous extension to the written vocabulary by way of acronyms, like BTW (by the way), or gr8 (great) and TTFN (ta ta for now). So just conversing with some people can take longer than if they’d written regular English instead of the mess of acronyms filling your chat window.
Quite a lot has been said and studied with regards to the loss of emotion in emails. Even with the help of smilies – those mostly annoying but sometimes apt visual emotional cues that represent the emotion meant when either writing an email, or more commonly in Instant Messaging – there’s always that moment when a joke or an ironic comment or observation just goes whoooosh! Straight over their head.
Matters are compounded when you’re using colloquialisms, quoting from TV or film, or just making use of language that’s more customary in your culture than theirs. So in a very real sense, something gets lost in translation.
The nightmare of the work-shy: clock-watchin’ across time zones
Time is the great leveler of women & men. Knowing nothing and caring even less of our desire to socialize across time zones, we see waves of people come on-line as others sign off.
Knowing when the west coast of the USA comes on-line is often key to being one of the first things a valued subscriber might be reading over coffee with corn flakes.
If I can find them, those that pass through and comment get a mention. And if I’m feeling forward, I’ll send them an email and thank them for their time.
And finding those that comment, or at least coaxing people to de-cloak long enough to comment can be a rewarding challenge, as Stephen Davies, the tech’ and public relations writer over on PR Blogger recently found out.
As has been the case, some of the people who kindly spare their time to comment have become friends, who I chat with on a regular basis.
If you’re in, then I’m out!
Sometimes, we forget. I might just pop up with a question for someone just as they’re taking their kids to school, while for me it’s late evening.
And then I might get a question or a funny / annoying / racy comment just as I’m sat with a client, working on some website or web application.
But that’s life on the web. It’s an always-on, ever-present Social Network that binds more and more people together for leisure, pleasure of profit.
And if you’re really lucky, all of the above.
Oh, and hi, BTW…