Instant Messaging Dissolves Distance, Culture

from the communicating-anywhere dept

There have been plenty of stories about how instant messaging is growing in popularity and usefulness. Now, here’s an article giving anecdotal experiences about how instant messaging changes the nature of communications. The writer, a reporter, and his wife both seem to travel the world constantly, yet they stay in touch by instant messages beamed around the globe. They’ve become used to communicating this way rather than by phone. While it clearly does not replace face-to-face contact, it is quite amazing how close people can stay by using instant messaging. I think it’s informal nature helps. It used to be that a “long distance” phone call was such a big deal. Everyone would prepare for it, and people would talk about how expensive it was, so they wouldn’t want to waste any minute of it with random chitchat. While that’s less true today with cheap calling plans and flat rate cell phones, there’s still something about being directly connected to someone else where you feel the conversation has to keep going. The informal nature of IM makes it so people can have a more natural conversation – like they do when they’re together in person. It can fade out and pop back up at any time. I know in my life alone, instant messaging has clearly made it easier to stay in touch with both friends and family in a way that doesn’t make me feel as far away geographically as I actually am.

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