by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
hiding, honesty, instant messenger

Now Tell Us What You Really Think... But Do It Over Instant Messenger...

from the in-keyboard-veritas dept

This probably won't come as a surprise to anyone, but saying potentially embarrassing stuff in writing is a hell of a lot easier than saying it in person when you have to watch how people react. That's why people can sometimes be such jerks online. But, it also means that for kids these days it's much easier to have potentially embarrassing conversations, such as asking someone out or dumping them. They just do it all online and don't have to deal with the immediate reactions. Some people, of course, find this horrifying, that people may never learn how to talk directly to others about potentially uncomfortable subjects, while others (mostly those who are uncomfortable talking to others about such things) find it to be quite liberating. Like most things, it seems like the type of thing that is useful in moderation -- as long as people recognize the signal that it sends out as well. For example, when it comes to dating, someone who is attracted to more confident people will actually find it a turnoff to be asked out this way -- meaning that as liberating as it is, it may actually be hurting some people's chances to become too reliant on hiding behind the keyboard. In the end, though, it really is just a tool -- and as people learn to use it appropriately it's hard to see how that's a problem.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2007 @ 7:46pm

    Why would you have anything to do with your classmates over the internet? I don't rush home so I can IM my coworkers or read up on their myspace page.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2007 @ 8:41pm

    Don't forget the liberating effect of pseudo-anonymity!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2007 @ 8:58pm

    Thank God that prior to the internet we were incapable of communicating through written word. Society would have certainly collapsed on itself if people communicated through letters and such... INTERNET IS THE DEVIL!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    darkbhudda, Nov 15th, 2007 @ 9:06pm

    The problem is that some people are going to learn that being a jerk is acceptable in all situations. Then they'll have to learn that in the real world sometimes the only way not to have someone punch you in the head is to keep your mouth shut.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    martin, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 5:49am

    I see that as an opportunity rather than a problem. People might be jerks, but those have problems IRL anyways. But IM gives shy ppl the opportunity to talk about subjects they would not talk about at all else. Plus, you don't press the person you are talking to to say either yes or no - increasing the possibility not to be turned down.
    A second plus is instant privacy. You can IM about something that you wouldn't talk about aloud for fear of eavesdroppers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    pergilli, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:42pm

    half step to socializing.

    I used to be incredibly shy--and socially backwards. I REALLY didn't know how to talk to people. My confidence was incredibly low. I didn't know how to do small talk, or why people even did it. Flirting was totally over my head. I got terribly nervous when trying to socialize, and just never fit in.

    When I started Instant Messaging, I found that I could actually have normal conversations with people. I could think of what to say and not feel 'on the spot'. I could articulate. I even almost learned how to flirt. I gained confidence.

    IM was a half-step into socialization. Taking the full step was too difficult all at once for me. Using IM allowed me to learn some of the socializing skills that come naturally to most people, and then practice them. Gradually, I took those skills into 'real life'.

    I'm still a dork. I'm by no means a smooth talker or even very charismatic, but I no longer suffer from severe shyness. And IM played a significant part in that.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Acetroubleshooter, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 8:24am

    Instant messenger

    I strongly agree with pergilli, instant messenger is an aid to those sociably insufficient. I once to was a shy little boy back in middle school, I wore the glasses and had the whole bowl cut going on as well. But I was introduced to the world of the internet at a late age, my mother first showed me how to play pool online with different people, this eventually spawned my interest in how the internet worked. Back on topic, I started going to chat rooms and such on yahoo instant messenger and got comfortable with my online peers. This in turn helped me in real life. First Id started to look for people like me in my school, people that interest in computers. I found a few, and some are still my best friends to this day. About a year later I decided to change my image and become a little more outgoing, I started asking pretty ladies for the MSN addy's. And sure enough, it worked and im now dating the love of my life and weve been together for 3 years. All because we got to know each other through MSN instant messenger. Bravo microsoft, bravo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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