Susan's Blog

Monday, May 28, 2007

I M Wondering…

I think that email, I.M., and txt msging are all very satisfying to use in their own way, but they also have their limitations and there is an etiquette involved. The etiquette is different from face-to-face or phone conversations. I am fascinated with various forms of interacting and I wonder what it is that makes the differences.

Take the difference between a driving encounter and a face-to-face encounter. In our cars we are often by ourselves or just a loved one or two, and we feel completely sealed off from others. I think many of us (I am including me, unfortunately) kind of become someone else behind the wheel. I swear a lot more than in real life, for one thing. It seems that being closed off behind metal and glass I feel stronger and safer and yet, at the same time, more defensive and offensive. I assume the worst of people; someone who is going too slow is perhaps doing it to teach me a lesson? Someone who is tailgating me is giving me a message to go faster? I almost never think, “Oh, she is lost, so she is going too slow.” Or “He is nearsighted; or has no sense of distance; or he’s merely trying to read my bumper sticker.” Or is unaware of what he is doing. These days I am so aware of my bitchy driving habits (because my children and husband seem to tense up in the car when I drive) that I am trying harder to breathe, breathe, breathe.

In terms of email and IM, I find I love using email but I hate IM. I hate the intrusive immediacy of IM. You hardly get a chance to collect your thoughts when they have sent yet another under-capitalized message. Sometimes a whole new chain of conversation has started on their end and you’re still answering the first. It can get very confusing. Also, if you are silent for a while, they say, “Hello?” which always seems a little sad to me. Sometimes I’m just thinking! But the etiquette is such that you have to say, “hold on…” or something like that.

And how do you end an IM session? Sometimes the other person is deep into their thing with you and you realize Jon Stewart is on or your sweetheart is going up to bed and you absolutely must go to sleep at the same time or one will wake up the other. So many times, the other person is just chock full of I-Mergy and I am trying to break in, the way you can in a normal face-to-face conversation. One person I know was so oversensitive on IM that the minute I paused to think he would say, “Are u there?” And by the way, I also hate the abbreviations. I am too old and cranky to do that kind of stuff, I guess.

Recently Max showed me how to txt in my phone. Now that is really energy/time consuming! But I was having a “conversation” with someone and he stopped in the middle! The next day I asked him what was up and he said he had fallen asleep. In the middle of txting! Not even a gdnght. Is that rude, or is that the nature of txting? I have to ask Max.



LOL, or should I say ROFL? You’ve captured the very essence of why I deleted the IM program from my computer! my teenage neices lagh at my “full text” txt mssgs to them. Tough to teach an old dog new tricks, eh?

— added by Niksmom on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 2:35 pm

In terms of the IM thing, I think it’s largely a generational thing. Having been raised in a time when people actually sent letters to each other (that’s just so 20th century), a collective sense of what constitutes proper manners in different forms of electronic messaging has yet to emerge.

As a result, we older folks (i.e., anyone born before about 1975) cling to a more formal set of manners, while younger folks coming of age in a more free form, make up the rules as you go along, time are more accepting of a wider range of “etiquette”.

Personally, I think that a lot of the “older” etiquette would be useful if carried over, but time will tell.

As to the driving thing, having once lived in Boston I think that it might not be so much a personal thing as much as one’s reaction to driving in the recently rated 3rd worst city in the US to live in for road rage.


— added by Club 166 on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 3:48 pm

I think the IM thing is expected to just end – I find that it does when I talk to someone younger than me. When I IM my Dad he will say ‘sincerely’ and type his name at the end — is that what you are looking for ’cause I think that is going a little too far!

Texting – well – did you ever speak pig latin growing up? Not really that much different. My phone has word recognition so once I get most of the letters in it will recognize the word and put the entire thing in for me.

IM, texting, and wall posts are still ways to communicate – just different ways. When I was a kid we passed notes, talked on the phone, wrote letters and went to each others houses – how boring is that!

Something to think about though — home computers and this type of electronic communication hasn’t been around for very long – which generation perfected them? That would be ours. We gave the kids this stuff so should we blame ourselves just a tiny bit? 🙂

The driving thing – well – use to say some ‘interesting’ things as well. Until I was in the car at a light and heard my son’s voice from the backseat (he was about 4 and didn’t really talk) say “would you just f-ing go”. Thanks to my husband and his impatience and potty mouth that was my son’s first sentence. I am ashamed to say it now but at the time I was happy he had finally said something…

— added by lizziehoop on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Hate to admit it, but when I get behind the wheel on the highway, I get the road rage bug. The thing I hate the most is when people “cruise” in the high speed/passing (left) lane, and I’m going faster and trying to pass them in the high speed lane but I can’t because they’re in it in front of me, so they force me to (insert road rage here) pass them on the right! I do drive 90 miles (yes, that’s 45 each way) to/from work each day in Cleveland, though (crazy, huh?).

I agree with you on the IM thing. I always feel like I’m interrupting someone when I call them on the phone or IM them, but with email, you can put down all your thoughts first, revise it, and then send it, and they can read it when they are ready.

— added by MarkZ on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 1:54 pm

On IM: If I have to leave, I just type a “gotta go!” and then set my status to indicate I’m gone. I may want to tell the other person why I’ve gotta go (gotta feed the kids now, bye! or somesuch), but most of the people I message with understand.

Also, most of the people I’m messaging are doing something else at their computer at the same time and just using messaging to fill spare bits by making contact with someone they want to be making contact with, and if there’s a 5-minute lull, most of them don’t think anything of it.

And if I really want someone to leave me be for just a bit, I IM a URL that will take them a little while to digest. 🙂

— added by Julia on Sunday, June 3, 2007 at 4:13 pm

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