mercredi, novembre 30, 2011

Why (torrid) instant messaging makes me crazy


This isn't really about torrid instant messaging -- although we'll get there for a few lines near the end of this post.

My apologies to those who decided to read this just for the parenthesis.

I have a larger target: instant messaging in general.

Today I was rifling through a few dating profiles before I returned to my commentary on Mormons (a particularly dry one, I might add -- we get to the hot stuff in a few weeks).

A fellow pinged me -- he wanted to chat.

I didn't want to chat. But he had sent me a particularly nice email this week, and I felt bad about turning him down after I'd thanked him for the email.

So I signed in for twenty minutes or so of slow agony.

I'm a fast woman, quick with the puns and the questions and the sometimes stupid jokes.

He wasn't -- it took him about three minutes to respond to my comments.

Telling me that I was a procrastinator and a "kindred spirit" was the last straw.

Perhaps, I said. But I'm going back to work.


By and large, I find instant messaging clunky, slow and difficult.

How many times have you wondered if the person on the other end was serious -- or had actually intended to be funny?

How many "grins" and "smiles" and 'lols" can you use in one chat?

What if you've really ticked someone off, and they are annoyed? Or what if you discover after you have apologized profusely that they weren't mad at all?

Because I'm incorrigibly curious, I find myself, at the end of a conversation, starved for information.

Were theytruly enjoying the chat? What else were they doing while chatting with me? Did they feel a need to return to work, but were too polite to tell me? Were they getting sleepy...very sleeeepy?

What weren't they saying? What would I have known if I'd seen them face to face?

Chill is easy to read in a virtual chat -- but warmth is harder to telegraph.

Generally, it helps to have a context. My friend Mollie and I can pretty much pick up where we left off, even if we left off a few weeks or a month before.

It also helps if the person on the other end is a good writer. Boy, does it help.

Sometimes it's even intuitive.

If you know someone, even if you haven't talked for quite a while, nature can take over. A rhythm come back with astonishing ease. There is some knowledge that transcends even the clumsy oafs on either side of their computers.

Banter is possible online. But you have to be really good at it to get your point across or you are trying so hard you can practically see the smoke and mirrors.

And if someone doesn't want to move from online talk to the cell phone or landline, it is possible that they aren't serious about wanting to get to know you better.

In which case, perhaps you shouldn't be, either.

Now, as to those torrid chats. You realize, of course, that you have to adjust your definition of torrid to accommodate someone more familiar with Victorian poetry than modern sexual mores.

Think reticent fourth-grader.

Once you have done that, I can proudly say that I've had a few with someone clever, and very audacious. Happy am I that no one was here to see my slightly maidenly blushes.

In addition, in my past, I have exchanged some emails that came close to messaging, so fast did they fly across our lines.

But all they did, in the end, was to intensify the thirst I felt to look into someone's eyes, hear his voice, have him wrap his arms around me.

It was like eating a Hershey's bar when you crave Belgian chocolate.

I am not a big fan of messaging, as perhaps you have discerned.

That doesn't mean I'll stop using it.

But it does mean that I'll continue to be careful about how, and when...and, of course, where I use it.

I wouldn't want my kids to see me blush -- or fall asleep at the monitor.

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