The Null Device

Away message culture

A NYTimes piece looking at the culture of away messages on instant messaging services, and how many users (typically young people) treat their messages like LiveJournal mood rings. (via Techdirt)
She said her friends often use away messaging as an emotional outlet. "One friend always has up song lyrics that reflect her mood," she said. Ms. Sanders has done that, too. During reflective moments, "I would be listening to sad songs and would be, 'That would make a great away message.' "
What's more, the away message "becomes a litmus test for personal worth," said Rebecca Blatt, another sophomore at Penn. "Writing 'having an awful day,' or 'drowning in a sea of tears' clearly invites a reaction. What if no one responds?"
And when it comes to sweethearts, especially former and future ones, away messaging adds a new immediacy. Those unwilling to delete a former flame's screen name can effortlessly if painfully keep track of a life they are no longer part of.

(Even if they never were part of it in the first place except in their fevered imaginations.)

Not that this is anything new, mind you; similar things have been happening on goofey for a decade or so; and then there are .plan files (remember those?) from back in the days when people used multi-user UNIX systems. Ah, that takes me back.

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