Tuesday, June 26, 2007

why I don't like instant messages

Here's one question I kinda got a lot: "Why are you never on MSN/Yahoo!/etc..?". I often reply to that with "Because I don't like to chat". And that answer usually provokes more questions. I guess in the end it all boils down to this: I'm not the chatty type plus instant messengers make me nervous, frustrated and under-appreciated.

I used to like instant messengers. A lot. Back in the good ol'day (i.e. year 10). I was kinda addicted to it, went online just to see if there is any "friends" online and struck up conversations with strangers in weird chat rooms and all. Some of the conversations I got was quite interesting too. I once chatted with this total stranger who was in Moscow during winter. He said that it was a nice warm winter day there and that it was -5 degrees Celsius there. Gee, if that is warm I wonder what is the definition for cold.

You grow out of the things you used to like in your early teen years eventually. I was addicted to Hip-Hop and R'n'B at the time too. Needless to say, I don't necessarily enjoy any of the things I used to like in year 10 now. Have you ever had that sudden realisation that you had horrible tastes back in your early teenage years? I was at a party recently and Backstreet Boys (the old stuffs, not the horrible Incomplete stuff) was on. I haven't listened to any of their old stuff since 2002, it was quite an elating as well as appalling experience. On the one hand, you start to feel whatever emotions you used to feel when you first heard the songs (which was sort of an elated feeling for me), it's like reliving your primary school days. On the other hand, your present self really listens to the godawful tacky lyrics and just wanna shut down your ears (but the music is still freaking catchy).

Back to why I don't like to chat, I don't exactly know when it started but I guess I stopped chatting and started reading some time in the beginning of year 11. I tried to get back into the habit of chatting but it wasn't much of a success for a few reasons.

I hate to wait. With instant messages, you have to type, hit send then wait to get the reply. Sometimes you typed out something that is quite thought-out and witty and the person on the other side for whatever reason (usually it's chatting with multiple other persons) is too busy to fully read and realise how much effort you put into your message and replies with the stupid LOL or sometimes if they feel exceptionally generous with their muscle use they'll type ROFL and adds a smiley and then nothing else. Naturally, once you see ROFL or LOL you'd think (or maybe it's only me) that they're too busy laughing out loud or too busy rolling on the floor laughing because of your oh-so-witty message to type out a coherent reply to it and they would do so once they've fought off the urge to LOLing or ROFLing. But no, you receive no other message after that, not even a stupid "[insert witty username here] is typing a message" from the messenger. So you wait, and wait and nothing happens. Naturally you assume they're not interested in having a "conversation" with you any more so you turn off the chat windows and get on doing whatever you were doing before they started the conversation with you. Two hours later, up pops the messenger window, complete with doorbell sounds (which always, always makes me jump with anything but joy and which makes me nervous) and with one deadpan question: "where did you go?". Huh, funny you should ask, I got such a hilarious reply from you I haven't stop LOLing and ROFLing for 2 hours.

Chatting online is, of course, a great way to keep in touch, no one can deny that but do we really wanna keep in touch with the people we see every single weekday? Is there really a lot of things that can happen between the time you say "see ya" to them at 5pm and the time you log on your instant messengers at 8pm? Really. And if something really exciting did happen between 5pm and 8pm, I would think that you'll be able to wait until 9am the next day to tell them to their face and see their reactions. Of course it would be an exception if I win five million dollars from a lottery ticket that I picked up on the train on the way home, but then I'd be too excited to log on to the messenger to start chatting and too rich to even care about phone bills to use messengers anyway. I'd much prefer talking and if you know me I don't usually like to talk much so you know it really is a special something when I say I prefer talking. At least with an actual conversation, you know, the oral kind, you can be sure that the person talking to you isn't talking to umpteen other people.

What about the friends that you don't see everyday, you might ask. Well chatting with them is always fun for me as long as I don't do it every single day. Ever heard of the saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder"? It really does, or rather lack of regular contacts makes the heart grow fonder, try it sometimes.

With that said, sometimes I don't like chatting with old friends at all. The really old friends, like the ones you know back in primary school in another country before you move to country you currently live. Those are not fun at all. They don't like chatting in English and I don't like chatting in Vietnamese since it's confusing and I have to spend a lot of time trying to spell everything correctly to actually enjoy the conversation. So naturally, they assume that I'm a snob for using English to chat with them or for using Vietnamese with the occasional English words for whatever words that I can't remember how to spell in Vietnamese or can't even remember what the equivalent of that English words in Vietnamese are. And then there's the wow-how-much-have-you-changed conversation which always makes me feel like they don't like the way I've changed. What do you mean how much have I changed? Of course I have to change, you can't move to another country and stay exactly the same, can you? You stay in the same country and you've changed, how can I not?

Yahoo! Mail has just got this new feature in their Beta. Now you can chat in the browser without having to install the messenger. I didn't care about this much at first. I put it on invisible or offline all the time so no one would start talking to me. But then the offline messages from deep past friends started to flow in. Before I can use the excuse of not having a messenger installed on my computer to avoid those messages, now, there's no way of escaping. It's not that I don't like to hear from them, I just don't like to feel judged and snobbish every time I chat with them.

So to conclude a very long post: I don't like instant messages.

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