IM through

I hadn’t thought about it lately, but it’s true: I haven’t so much as clicked on my instant-message client in months. I suspect I have seen the wisdom of this viewpoint:

One thing I hate about the electronic age is the expectation of immediacy. Some forms of electronic communication, however, have greater expectations of immediacy than others. Like instant messaging, for instance. I once had instant messaging eons ago, but I am prone to multitasking and getting distracted by more important things than random chitchat. This, of course, pissed off people I was IMing with so I ended up not doing any sort of instant messaging at all. E-mail, on the other hand, is more flexible. I respond fairly quickly if it’s from family or work, but otherwise I can put it off for a couple of days. Or respond not at all. (Or pretend that it got lost in the aether if it’s from someone I don’t really want to talk to.) Twitter is a mix between the two. While I like the IMing aspect of interacting with other people online in a semi-immediate way, I don’t think many people would get really angry with me if I get distracted and respond two hours later.

I am not particularly adept at multitasking, so I probably pissed people off even more. And I have informal Response Times for email, depending on my own priorities: six hours is a hurry, 24 hours is more likely, and 48 hours is the default for some high-volume correspondents. (It does nothing, I have discovered, to reduce their volume.)

The record for slowest response to one of my tweets? Two hundred fifty days: 29 July 2012 to 5 April 2013. “Sorry, I totally just saw this!” she explained. I understood: I’m easy to overlook, and it wasn’t like the matter was urgent.


  1. fillyjonk »

    15 April 2013 · 2:27 pm

    There’s a point with multitasking/immediacy where I just start to feel angry and used. (Have been dealing with Special Snowflake students today: “What do we want? Everything! When do we want it? Fifteen minutes ago!”)

    I think the status-symbol or luxury of the future will to be someone who DOESN’T need to be needed 24/7. Someone who can break away from work without being yammered at by people.

  2. Roger Green »

    15 April 2013 · 5:41 pm

    I only IM people via FB, and those who don’t have e-mail; or never reply to it. When I receive it, it’s almost ALWAYS an interrupter (90% of the time I’m at work)

  3. CGHill »

    15 April 2013 · 8:12 pm

    You should see me swear at incoming email. Better yet, you shouldn’t.

  4. Brian J. »

    16 April 2013 · 6:14 am

    Strangely, I think of IMs (and text messages) as a less immediate demand for a response than a phone call. Probably somewhere between a phone call and an email.

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