Subscribe to
NSLog(); Header Image

Absent Minded

I was going to link to a New York Times article, but they've gone to a paid archive system of some kind, so fuggem. >:-o The article discussed "away messages" on chat clients, largely focusing on college students.

One girl was quoted as saying something like "I log on and check about sixty people's away messages, even people I have never talked to. I want to see what everyone's up to. Another boy, famous for his funny, insightful, and strange away messages, talked about the pressure of changing his away message five times a day to keep up with demand for people who were checking it.

Call me a fuddy duddy, but my away messages say things like "I'm at the beach, call my phone instead" and "I'm taking my dog out to pee, I'll be right back." Sometimes they border on being cryptic, and very rarely they're an inside joke (such as when I've got to grab something out of the microwave, and will brb).

Right now there are 3 + 8 + 3 + 1 people on my buddy list. I've talked with each of those people within the past 24 hours. Normally there are a few more, but nobody on my buddy list is there for the sole purpose of "ready access to their away message." Hell, half of my friends forget to put up an away message half of the time, and several others use "I'm away from the computer right now" which is default in some AIM client or another.

Perhaps we've grown up? Perhaps, as adults, we have better things to do with our time than find ways to procrastinate. I don't like to worry about my away message: I have a few core ones I use (sleeping, running errands, at the beach, taking Flint out, and one with the lyrics to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that my friends know means "I'm just putzing around").

iChat shows away messages underneath a person's name, making the "checking" of away messages quite easy. iChat goes so far as to give people available messages, too. For example, you can be online with an available message of "I'm here, please talk to me!" (if you're pathetic, I guess.)

Jamie and I have used this chat status thing to send silly messages to each other. Occasionally I've set my available status to "Available? That doesn't begin to describe me." when I've felt a little too single. One time it was "Getting some" (as in sex) followed by a hundred spaces and then "ice cream. BRB." In a normal width iChat buddy list, it looked as though being "available" was no longer a problem. 🙂

At any rate, blah, I've run out of things to say. Screw the New York Times dammit! Heh.

Enemies are a good thing. Without Bluto, Popeye's just a vegetarian sailor that likes anorexic chicks.

In other words, just leave a message. I'm not here.

13 Responses to "Absent Minded"

  1. Yeah, I read the article when I came out. It was a pretty short article, but a good fun read nonetheless. I on the other hand, don't use my away messages enough. I just let myself idle.

  2. Distrait

    adjective 1. Apprehensively divided or withdrawn in attention; distracted. I'm heading out of town for a friend's wedding (way too

  3. I still have a few folks on my IM list that are only there for the away messages. In some cases, it lets me keep tabs on people and in other cases they tend to have interesting messages. Scanning them is an easy way to take a break for a minute or two while staying at the computer.

    I've got two problems with the iChat away message model. First, some folks put hyperlinks in the away messages, so there's no way to click the link (at least that I've found).

    Second, some folks use really long away messages -- messages that stretch the beyond the length of the screen when you view the tool tip. Usually, these are along the lines of quotes. There doesn't seem to be any way to view the whole message.

    Personally, though, my away messages tend towards the tamer side of things, unless I'm in an odd mood.

  4. It's more work, but you CAN see the all of a lengthy away message by sending an IM to that person and seeing what comes back in the chat window.

  5. Rusto, that's incorrect. iChat does not IM away messages in response to incoming messages.

  6. Rusto, even if iChat supported this, I'd rather not send a bunch of blank IMs to people just so I can see their away message. I think it would be a bit annoying to come home and see a bunch of empty "messages" from people. That's one of the reasons I don't user apps like Adium.

  7. Eric, I use Adium and have no idea what you're talking about. Anyone on iChat can see my Adium-set away messages just fine, without sending a message. I log on to iChat to check someone's away message if I really need to talk to them.

  8. Speaking of away messages, my website is now ranked seventh by Google for AIM Away Messages (out of about half a million). I'm also forth out of about three quarters of a million for Sex Away Messages. Searches that hit that particular page involve various variations of "[word] away messages" (where word is commonly: love, sarcastic, funny, sexy, drunk, etc). That tiny little page accounts for half of all the traffic my website receives (which is about five hundred pages a day, which I suppose is not much compared to some other websites...).

    And yes, I'm shamelessly using Erik's good PageRank(tm) to help my ranking too. 🙂

  9. Erik, I'm talking about reading other people's away messages with Adium -- ie, they post an away message with their client of choice and I try to read it with Adium.

    If this had changed since I last used Adium (about a year ago), I'll gladly give it another shot. I seem to recall this features being one of the main differences between the TOC and Oscar protocols.

    I can see how my last post could be a bit confusing. I should have said something like "I think it would be a bit annoying for my friends to come home and see empty 'messages' from me."

    I declare that any potential confusion due to the combined effects of a long week. Therefore, let the weekend begin! 🙂

  10. Yes, I was confused. But we've got it straightened out now. 🙂

  11. here's an away message:

    I'm away

  12. I've got the New York Times article archived on my website: Making a Statement, in Absentia by Joyce Cohen

    There was recently an article in USA Today about Away Messages that featured my senior thesis project, BuddyGopher. Drop me an e-mail if you want to talk about the future of the consumer Buddy List! Away messages are just the beginning.