Online/Offline & Socially Accepted Behaviours

23 11 2009

So I have concluded that the preconceptions, protocol and rules for behavior online where written about ten-15 years ago when most of us got online.  Really it probably mostly started for you the day you downloaded msn.  (unless you started out with ICQ like us cool kids 😉 if you’re cooler and started earlier… shutty)

Back then most, if not all, folks where on dial up.  You couldn’t just hang out online, because it tied up your phone.  Even if you got a second phone line, which most of us did as we got more into the internet, you still paid for how long you were online and the information transferred.  It wasn’t a flat fee, and even if you had a flat fee it was just slow… hella slow.  Computers were slow the internet is slow.

But it was all we knew.  So sitting in front of a box for 6 hours TRYING to do stuff online compared to the fact we could get it all done in 20 mins now, was a bit of a waste of time.  Even in uni where most of us were plugged into internet so fast that it puts most of your ADSL to shame and online 24-7, we still didn’t hang out around the computer for long periods of time.

So ‘back in the day’ when we all got online but didn’t really hang out there, online meant something different.  You were there with intent.  You turned the computer on, went online and were looking for and expecting others to play with.  You weren’t playing around in your email, watching tv, movies, youtube.  You weren’t just sitting at your desk, writing, reading, or doing home work playing music online.  Essentially just sitting near by.

Now we all have cable internet, satellite, ADSL, fiber optic… it’s cheap fast and consistent.  We’re online all the time, we’re plugged in.   Most people never turn their computer off.  So.. now what?  How can we justify the same rules still applying?  Obviously most people haven’t really thought about it.

Oh sure you just lurk offline, busy or away to discourage people from sending you messages.  Hell most chat programs have enabled the ‘offline’ chat, so you can lurk around offline but still talk to you who want to.

Seriously?  This is what it has come to?  We have to hide?  When I commented about the whole business on Facebook, a friend mentioned that chat services all have the option of just turning them off, if you don’t want to chat shut it off.  Fair enough, but why should I have to?  Do I have to turn my phone off if I don’t want to talk?  Can’t I just silence the ringer?  Then I know you called me, I can send you a text or call you back.  Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a little odd when I send people a message and it shows them as online but they don’t reply at all.  And even a little rude when they continually ignore me with out so much as a ‘hi, sorry I’m busy’ or an email or message at some later time.  BUT  I don’t assume that you being online means you’re really there and I don’t take it as a mortal insult if you don’t reply to me.  Plus there is always the possibility that there are technical difficulties.

You can’t tell me that you’ve never popped in to check and email and been assaulted by a barrage of messages from people.  And then when you don’t reply or tell people you’re busy they get all cranky at you.  Like you (by being online) have initiated contact somehow and are being an asshole.  Everyone has, hence almost everyone sets their chat things… to away or appear offline.

Well I think it’s ridiculous.  New rules of edict should be written taking into account the changing times.  Just talking to someone because your status says online but then being obviously short with them is not the solution.  I’ve been told well it’s rude not to say anything.  And I totally can see that point, but one of my best friends has an easy solution for that, if he’s not in a chatting mood, he just asks if there is anything important up, but if not he’s not really in the mood to chat.  Nope I just wanted to say hi and tll, or yeah I needed to ask you xyz and was hoping for immediate feedback.

That wasn’t hard was it?  I have stopped chatting to people out of some sort of obligatory, you sent me an IM so I must reply, because I just come off as rude.   I don’t want to talk to you right now.  It’s not that I don’t like you, maybe I’m in a bad mood, maybe I’m doing something, maybe I honestly don’t feel like talking to YOU at this moment.  Is that really such a big deal?  We all have call display, we all screen our calls from time to time.  No one is wounded in this process.

I’m sure we (the people of the online world) can come up with a solution and agreement on the proper responses and protocol but someone has to bring it up first.  Here I am, bringing it up.  (and I claim all bragging rights when it becomes all universal, [grin]).  Besides the whole hide offline is silly as we all KNOW that people are probably online as no one really  turns their computers off.

Thoughts?

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4 responses

24 11 2009
Dee

What if you answered because you thought it was something important, or you didn’t know you weren’t in the mood to chat, or it was RIGHT before you started doing something that you didn’t realize was going to take more brain power than you thought?

It is a hot topic, and while I understand that your facebook status was not a p/a stab at me, I can’t help but feel defensive that you posted it RIGHT after our conversation, and then it blew into a big topic of how what I did was deemed rude by you (because I’m under no illusion that it was my conversation, or should I say “distracted conversation” that got your creative writing juices flowing).

My thought is “who are you to say what is rude and what is not”. I saw you pop up. I glanced down and realized I had forgotten to turn it to invisible and thought “oh crap”. I answered you, and then continued to do what I had come to the computer to do, only because I know that the program would TELL you if I wasn’t there. And I obviously was.

It’s akin to walking through the mall and making eye contact with someone and waving. If they look right through you and ignore you, it’s rude. But if you “think” you saw someone and there was no eye contact and you wave, you can brush it off as “maybe they didn’t see me”, and not be offended.

Maybe I’m a dinosaur, stuck in the ways of when I signed onto MSN, but to me not responding is ruder than having a shortlived conversation. Remember, too, that tone does not come across in writing all the time. So how is the person to know if the other is in a chatty fun mood?

On the other side of the coin, why is it not done as it is on the phone. Saying “are you busy right now?” would have kyboshed all feelings of anything on both sides. A response of “kinda, what’s up?” would have gotten “nuthin, just feeling chatty” folllowed by “sorry, can’t right now”. Instead, the other person is expected to just say “sorry not feeling chatty” and be rude about it?

There is NO right answer. All we can do is live within each others expectations to the best of our abilities. There ARE no rules. There ARE no anything.

I keep coming back to “do you have time to jabber” or “are you too busy to talk right now”. Especially if you are getting one word answers. Like I said, maybe that person didn’t realize how busy they were, and did the “auto type” answer without realizing they were going to upset (too strong a word, I know) the other person.

*shrug*

24 11 2009
Magdalicious

I get what your saying, and I can see why you would take it personally. Although, it really wasn’t about you. You didn’t do anything, it was obvious you didn’t want to chat and I didn’t feel like pulling teeth :P(sigh… I think the Canadian conflict is shimmying into you!)

Honestly, I don’t think anyone should have to hide in ‘offline mode’ and I also don’t think you should have to ask someone who is online if they feel like chatting. If you are online but don’t feel like chatting (even if it’s just with that person) it’s not that hard to say hey’ just popped in but not actually free. As for seeing people in person, I can see the comparison…. but 1 it’s not the same, as you do not physically make eye contact, and 2 under a circumstance of seeing someone on the street on a bright sunny day and they were wearing sunglasses. I wave and say hi, but they don’t see me. I assume, it’s a busy street/mall whatever and they just didn’t see me.

I live overseas, so the times are totally different for me. The evening for people in Canada is late morning early afternoon for me. So people are always sending me messages and chats while I’m getting ready for work. So I can answer them and be late for work, or I can ignore them even though my computer is clearly showing me as online. If people don’t answer me, I assume they are busy, regardless of their online status.

I don’t really get upset about chat stuff, but so many ppl seem to get so wound up about being ignored or abused (in their eyes) dude to breaches in etiquette. But their are no clear rules… none that take into account how online we all are these days. So I think it needs to be discussed and figured out. 😀 maybe we can get the UN in on this 😀

25 11 2009
bowet000

I’m surprised that this is such a big issue for your friends. I very rarely have ppl complain to me about me not answering them when I’m online. I agree with Mag about the chatting ettiquette and regarding living overseas so being in different time zones causing you not to be able to talk. People always send me msgs just before I’m going to bed. I would like to talk but have to get up at 5:30am, so NEED to go to bed. I’m clearly “online” because I was just looking at the computer before bed, but can’t talk.

Anyway, I think if someone doesn’t answer you but they appear “online” you should just assume they don’t want to or can’t talk, certainly not because they are avoiding you 🙂

5 01 2010
Magdalicious

true ‘dat

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