I have a phobia of the phone, don’t have time to write lengthy emails, and my handwriting is so out of practice that signing my rent check each month feels like a chore, so Instant Messenger/GChat is my preferred method of communication (followed by texting, though “in-person interaction” trumps both with certain humanoids). It allows me to keep in touch with friends and do business with colleagues, while multi-tasking on everything else I like to do. When someone tells me they don’t use IM/GChat, I kind of feel like they’re from another planet and I don’t really trust them. (No offense. I mean, I still use the same AOL AIM handle I’ve had for, like, a decade, even though I’ve never had an AOL email address. So the rest of you, join me in the 1990s, please, the water is warm!)
But even those people with whom I IM/GChat on the regular manage to drive me insane sometimes. Here are four bad IM/GChat habits that makes me kind of want to block your ass.
1. Starting your message with just my name. My boss, bless her, has a habit of doing this and I don’t know how to tell her directly that it drives me crazy so I’m including it on this list in the hopes that she’ll see it. Usually once a day, I get an IM that starts like this:
My Boss: “Amelia.”
That’s it. I usually wait about 20 seconds for her to continue her thought and if she doesn’t write anything else, then I’ll respond, “Yes?” Then I’m left waiting usually for another 30-60 seconds as she types and I’m panicked because being addressed simply as “Amelia” sounds so foreboding. Every time my boss IMs me in this fashion, I’m convinced I am in deep, deep shit for something, or something terrible has happened, like our traffic goal just went up by, like, one million or HR has put the smackdown on me walking around barefoot.
Finally, finnnnnallly, her next IM comes through and it’s usually something like this:
My Boss: “I just wanted to tell you that we ranked really high for anal sex this month!”
And I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
2. Sending a message and then disappearing as soon as I respond. Yo, seriously, why are you starting an IM conversation if you don’t actually have time to conversate? Youuuuuu started the convo! I responded promptly! You can’t just disappear!
Friend [3:08 p.m.]: Hey, are you around tonight? We should totally hang out!
Me [3:08 p.m.]: I’d love to! Where and what time works for you?
20 minutes go by…
Friend [3:29 p.m.]: Ugh, sorry, I got distracted.
Dude, would you call someone up on the phone, ask them a question, and then put the phone down to watch TV for 20 minutes? No, no you wouldn’t.
3. Sending unnecessary acknowledgements. While I generally think most rules of etiquette should apply in an IM conversation, I also think that the medium should be respected and used for its efficiency. Now, this may be my ADD talking, but I can’t stand having my IM “new message” alert blinking at me especially when I know that the new message is from the person I was just talking to saying something as inconsequential as “bye!”, “thanks,” “no problem,” or “okay.” I’m compelled to click so the alert stops blinking, but it’s like a wasted half-second of my life that could have been spared had the sender just known that acknowledging my last message was unnecessary. For example, as I don’t want to call out anyone I know specifically, let’s pretend my crazy, 60-year-old dog walker uses IM (she doesn’t, she barely texts and hasn’t figured out how to apply her lipstick without going outside her lip line, but that’s another topic):
Crazy Dog Walker: I just walked Lucca — she went poop and pee!
Crazy Dog Walker: Cool.
Now, right after I responded to crazy dog walker and, in effect, ended the conversation, I probably went back to using some other application, like pinning important shit I want on Pinterest or blogging about IM pet peeves on The Frisky. But then that blinking light comes back up and I’m like, “WTF could she possibly have to say now?” and the blinking is distracting me, so I have to click back over to IM and lo and behold, the message is totally useless. I could be an asshole and respond myself, with something equally as unnecessary, like a stupid smiley face, but I don’t because I hope my silence will be the end of the convo this time.
In the grand scheme of IM annoyances, this is low on the list, obviously, and I think it’s probably just a pet peeve of mine due to my stupid ADD brain not being able to handle blinking anything signaling something not being attended to. I understand if you don’t empathize with this one, I know I’m neurotic, give me a break.
4. Telling me an epic story in short half sentences. Back when I used to do “Thoughts From Guys On Our IM” on a regular basis, this habit drove me especially nuts because I actually used to screengrab the IM conversations and then edit them in Photoshop. Sometimes the d-bags (I say that lovingly) I would talk to would answer me not in full paragraphs, not even in full sentences, but in short half sentences, which made Photoshopping their responses into something easily readable a pain in my motherfucking ass. Those posts took, like, four hours to put together, and I am pretty speedy at Photoshopping.
But this habit is obviously not exclusive to the dudes on my IM whose messages I painstakingly edited to look like complete paragraphs. Soooooo many people IM in incomplete sentences and I just don’t get it. It’s so hard to have and follow a conversation that way! Example:
Me: Hey, how was the rest of your night? Did you end up meeting up with Kyle?
Friend: like, I went over there
Friend: and it was weird, you know?
Friend: we fooled around a little but
Friend: he wasn’t really, like
Friend: into it.
Oh my god, most painful fucking conversation ever, I am going gray, just call me on the goddamn phone — even though I hate the phone — because it would be so so so much faster and easier and more enjoyable than this never-ending hiccup of an IM conversation!