>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
April 18, 2004

“This Column Will Make You ROTFL”

Now Playing: “Rocket Man” by Star Academy 3

Well, what were the odds that every other columnist would do a column on IM the same week I did? If you answered “100%, because you obviously planned it out that way,” then give yourself a pat on the back for not showing off your learning disability. And since I clearly have nothing new to add to the “Golden Rules of IM,” I will simply be rewording that article and inserting random puns and obscure pornography references (this is also known as ‘putting a Canadian spin on things.') Here's what happened:

-What would the world be like if Instant Messaging programs (yes, that's right, the word is “messaging,” not “messenging”) had been invented before the telephone? I imagine there'd be a lot of people saying stuff like “Check out that new telephone he's got. You can actually talk to people and hear their voices and stuff. It's so cool.” I guess what I'm trying to say is IM is actually a step DOWN from the telephone. It's like technology is evolving in reverse. If the world keeps going this way pretty soon we're all going to have to brush up on Morse Code.

-Quote of the Moment: My roommate, upon receiving the phone bill for the month: “I don't know why we even bother having a phone. I never use it anyway. I get by with just IM.” This is the same guy who, when the people he wants to talk to are offline, calls them up and tells them to log on to IM so they can “talk.” (For his birthday, I'm getting my roommate a telegraph.)

-Like all Canadians, I've never used AIM. In Canada we think AIM has to do with archery. Maybe it's just that up north we're more socially responsible and against big businesses like AOL, but we simply refuse to use AIM even if it's free. Instead, our IM programs reflect a simpler time, a time when the little guy stood a chance against the large evil corporation. That's right, we use MSN Messenger instead.

-Does anybody remember ICQ? Before AOL went and bought it and ruined everything, ICQ was this handy little piece of IM software that worked really well and allowed losers like me to chat with random losers from around the globe. Then, one day, spammers caught on and every 30 seconds ICQ users got bombarded with messages advertising Russian mail-order brides or pictures of girls having sex with horses. So everyone pretty much stopped using ICQ right then and there (except zoophiliacs, I suppose). But I just checked and ICQ still exists, 5 years after anybody in the world has ever signed in. At this point the spammers are pretty much sending these messages to themselves. (“What's this? Fresh farm sex? Let's just click the link here and… Oh, wait! This message is from me!”)

-If you ever want to see what your face will look like if you find out you have AIDS and your mother was just run over by a cement mixer and then subsequently buried under 12 tons of cement, just try telling a college student you don't use IM. Be careful, though. They might assume you're homeless and next thing you know the food bank is backing a truck filled with creamed corn into your driveway. There's no emoticon for that.

-Ever chat online with someone and their spelling and grammar is a little TOO good? Perfect punctuation, eloquent and complex sentence structures, impeccable spelling. Don't you get just a little bit nervous, like you're chatting with a librarian? Nobody should IM with semicolons. It's just not normal.

-Of course, on the other end of the spectrum are the people who overuse acronyms and emoticons. And by “overuse” I mean “use at least once in their lifetimes.” Guess what: That sideways smiley face was overused and idiotic on my Commodore 64. And instead of saying “ttyl,” just say “bye.” It's actually shorter. If I'm ever talking to someone online and they use an emoticon or an acronym, I instantly log off, block them and set fire to their dog. JK! 🙂

-Have you ever found out you've been blocked on someone else's IM? The thing that hurts the most is that you have to find out the hard way. Like you'll be looking through your roommate's Hot Carl videos one day and the person who has blocked you logs on, and you think to yourself: “I don't remember seeing that screen name before,” so you rush to your room and log on IM yourself and you see that, lo and behold, their screenname is still outdated on your computer. So you run back to your roommate's PC and start typing a series of poorly-spelled expletives thinking “That'll teach them to block ME” and then you realize you never really wanted to talk to them in the first place. Mark my words, if we ever have a World War 3 it's not going to be because of some sissy-ass conflict in the Middle East. It's just that George W. will find out he's been blocked by someone totally unimportant, like say the President of Kraft foods or Mexico.

-Do you have that one guy on your buddy list who's never online, and who's screen name is something like “Merry Christmas 1998”? Chances are he's just blocked you.

-And, finally, the worst IM felons of all are the ones whose current status has no bearing on the reality of the situation. Look, I'm not saying that you actually have to use the “On the Phone” and “Out to Lunch” buttons every time you leave the room. But what about the people who always, 24/7, set themselves to either “Away” or “Busy.” Nobody's that busy. Especially if they have the time to change their screenname to reflect the terrible song they're currently listening to. How big does your ego have to be to think that if you set yourself to “online” for 5 minutes you'll be bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of messages? Get over yourself. Until you do, I'm resurrecting my ICQ account. Maybe my old screenname “merryxmas98” is still active.