"How was work?" asked my Mom yesterday. "Urghhh," I said. Mom waited patiently. "Well, it was nice to touch base with everyone," I said. "Oh, because you have to email back and forth about who's posting about what?" "We don't email, Mom, we instant message each other, and mostly we're just talking." It was true: after a week of abstention from IM, it was nice to have some virtual conversations again! But there's something so dreadful about the IM lifestyle.
Upside! It's the easiest medium in which to be funny. But the same virtues that make IM a perfect mode for communicating trivial passing thoughts make it a terrible mode for communicating about real problems, and people will not quit using it for both—particularly at the same time. This can result in dire, friendship-ending fights based on misunderstandings and even IM breakups. (The sick saving grace of the IM breakup is that it does make the breakup conversation easier to blog about afterwards. Cut and paste.)
IM is also just sort of insidious and ADD-enhancing: Sometimes everyone is talking to you at once when you're trying to focus. Or, oh no, sometimes no one is talking to you and you're like "God, what did I do?" We'd probably be better off without it. But is it possible to swear it off?
(At this point, both Choire and I get an email about someone vile).