Instant Messaging: Boon or Curse?

All of us that are in a global setting – or even a national setting here in the wide-open USA – are using some kind of near real time messaging stuff…like instant messaging or SMS.I’m going to generally call any near real time messaging tool “IM” so bear with me. I think they are all cool – but there’s a backwash effect too.

There’s no question that IM can be cool…it can be fast…and it can keep poeple together, but there’s a dark side to IM. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been the protagonist and you’ve probably been the antagonist too. Have you been up late nights banging on the keyboard? Are you trying to code extra fast just to become a faster typer? Are you getting out of your chair and punching things in reaction to that rapid “bing….bing…bing”. Are you practicing those tight quips and short phrases? If so – then hey take a deep breath!

What I’ve noticed in my 5+ years using IM tools is that they can be very good when working with someone you know and trust, but with people that you do not know as well they can have an unexpected impact: anger…really deep anger. Why? Should this be a surprise? Not really.

If you walked into a room of people and pointed out someone you don’t know that well and stared barking out statements in short phrased statements with not a lot of context and not a lot of opportunity for the victim to think wouldn’t that piss you off? Of course! Add in the additional issue that the neophyte probably can’t type as fast and doesn’t know all the little graffiti tricks…and you’ll have one very irritated colleague. That’s what can happen with IM.

So overall is IM a good thing? Yeah I think so – but just remember who you are “bing-ing” at. Take a deep breath if you are getting upset.  Relax. Think about the person at the other end…especially if they are not a veteran IM’er.

Any comments? Thoughts?

PS: I write this mostly for myself…now I have a good place to go and remind myself about how to not behave 🙂

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