Dealing with the curse of mobile instant messaging

I was intrigued by MSN messenger (or whatever it was called back in the late 90s) – this was before mobile phones became a reality (in Nigeria) and sms the cheapest and preferred means of one-sided and multi sided conversations.

I thought yahoo messenger was cool – yes, I, like you had a yahoo account and thus a free yahoo messenger. Then came Google Talk and Skype. (this chronology is as experienced by the author and not necessarily the chronology of release of these products).

But all of these had some measure of control.

Go stealth

One could chose to go stealth – by selecting the ‘hidden’ or  ‘appear invisible’ status mode – and thus appear ‘invisible’, ‘not logged in’ or ‘unavailable’ to all on one’s contact list (yahoo even allowed you treat individuals as you want – to some you are visible and to others you are not). In this mode you are able to choose your battles and at your own convenience.

Loss of stealth

Enter mobile IM tools*, out ‘ability to chose your battles’.

Suddenly, everybody with your phone number can chat with you and those who with whom you shared your BB PIN in the excitement of buying a brand new blackberry device can now share jokes and breaking news with you.

And painfully, these people can tell when/if you have read a message, and sometimes this forms the basis of a quarrel: Why are you ignoring me?

Choosing your battles becomes a lot more difficult.

Loss of sanity

Suddenly, everybody becomes a comedian – only problem is there is little original content.

Whilst I love to read jokes I shared with others whilst a teenager, many years after, it becomes a pinching shoe and drives one insane or nearly so when one gets the same joke from every contact on one’s mobile IM list. Some of these contacts chose to add salt upon injury, each asking you to forward messages to others on your list as a show of affection or concern – forgetting they are the others – and for many unsuspecting or willing accomplice thus starts an insanity loop.

For me the euphoria of owning a smart phone was soon lost when everybody in my village bought a blackberry device and learnt my PIN – they nearly PINGed away my sanity safe for some of the sanity assurance measures.

Sanity assurance

  • If you must respond send the abbrevation lol (yes, you don’t have to laugh out loud): it doesn’t offend anybody
  • Ask ‘multiple repeat offenders’ to desist – explain their actions is stealing at your sanity, especially when messages are sent in the course of a work day
  • Odds are that they soon forget
  • Delete them – trust me they wont notice you are gone

As with all technologies in man’s known history the tools are not in themselves evil – even when designed for such – it’s the choice of the people in whose hands the tools are placed that determines its benefits or otherwise.

I love to get the good night messages from my mother every night, it assures a close connection despite the over six thousand kilometres that separates us.

But I honestly – and this to all my BB friends- I have heard that joke 20 times today and I am sick of it.

*By Mobile IM tools the author refers to mobile IM applications that works by using owners mobile phone number (e.g WhatAPP) or a device level unique identification BlackBerry PIN)



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