BY FREELANCER GRAZ FIRECASTER
Instant messages, or IMs for short, are a facet of Second Life that I have a real love/hate relationship with. Now, before I go on I realise I run the risk of offending some people who know me with what I am about to talk about. So let’s be clear. I don’t mean you, I don’t mean you either, and I certainly don’t mean YOU (yes you all know who you are). OK, so that’s cleared up, nobody need be offended and I can say my piece with impunity ;)
Now as you know, IMs allow us to directly contact anyone in SL whenever they are online (or even offline) and wherever they happen to be. When you start an IM session a window pops up in the recipient’s viewer with your lovely message. They can then respond by typing in this window and you can have a good old chin-wag in complete privacy. The other person can be standing next to you or standing on the other side of the virtual-globe, it doesn’t matter. (Actually thinking about it SL isn’t a globe is it? Hmm I’ll have to start a Second Life Flat-Earth Society, but I’ll leave that for another article.) Anyway I digress, IMs are a wonderful communication tool and we all love them to bits . . . don’t we?
OK, imagine IMs existed in the REAL world. Yeah, I know we have text messages and MSN/Skype but imagine you could pop up a little message inside your friend’s head no matter where they were or what they were doing? Sounds great, eh? I can think of several applications for brain to brain connectivity which would greatly enhance my life, BUT what about those times when you’re quietly reading a book or concentrating on completing that matchstick scale replica of the Taj Mahal? What about when you are sitting on the loo or worse having romantic relations with your significant other? The last thing I want when sitting on the throne perusing the Sunday Times is a voice popping into my head saying “Hi, what are you doing?” Do you see my point?
Don’t get me wrong, I love receiving IMs from my friends. But when all said and done, I am a male person and I don’t come with a pre-installed ability to multitask. Indeed, single tasking for me is often a challenge. So I’m sure you can imagine my stress levels rocketing when confronted by two or more open chat windows! I often find myself having several fragmented conversations AND trying to contribute to local chat wherever I might be. I’m sure I often appear disinterested and rude to the people on the receiving end of my sporadic and disjointed replies. Oh, and for the record I have had 12 windows open before, all whilst trying to DJ. I’m not joking, there was smoke coming out of my ears.
One thing we sometimes forget about IMs is that they create a permanent record of the conversation (if the other person has logging enabled in their viewer). This can come back to haunt you should a friendship turn sour. Your once private messages can be used against you, copy and pasted to others, quoted in local chat, be altered and used out of context or worse still – TURNED INTO AMUSING GESTURES!
Some IMs are just plain annoying. I compiled a quick list of my real bugbears. I wonder if I’m alone in these pet hates?
1. The IMs that come in saying “Hi”, I reply “Hi, how are you?”, then……………………………….. NOTHING!!!!!!!
2. The IMs that come in saying “Not talking to me today then?” (usually when I’ve only been logged in for 15 seconds!)….. GIMME A CHANCE TO REZ!!!!!!
3. When I IM someone to catch up and the first thing they say is “Oh, I thought you weren’t talking to me!”………. WELL I JUST IM’d YOU DIDN’T I??
Haha, well I know I sound like a right old grumpy bollocks, and to be honest this is all a bit tongue in cheek. I do enjoy receiving IMs (including offliners) but Second Life is first and foremost a chat room, and the best moments for me are when I’m with a group of friends chatting and laughing in local chat. I love the group dynamic, the cross-section of opinions, the randomness of the subject matter, and most of all the fact that I can sometimes sit back a little and enjoy listening to other people. Of course this is all just my opinion and I’m really interested to hear other people’s perspectives on IMs. So, please feel free to comment below. :)