>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
April 18, 2004

I don't need to emphasize that AIM is a necessity. The glorious bleeping and blooping sound of communication coming from your speakers is sweet sweet music to our ears. It is an addiction no question about it. I know a girl right now whose computer can only operate in safe mode, and even though every window and program has doubled in size she refuses to sign off. Admit it, AOL has made us completely co-dependent. Even so, there are times in each of our lives when the outside world imposes circumstances beyond our control, forcing us to leave the computer temporarily. During these times, we have grown accustomed to leaving brief memos posted for our buddies, explaining to them why we're gone, and not to worry—just because we're idle doesn't we're dead.

The Away Message. It's an artform really. A combination of simplicity and cleverness designed to tell your buddies either: Where you are, what you're doing, and if the mood strikes you, what time you'll be back. Your material in this short note will communicate to the outside world whether you're a pretty proficient on-point individual or the biggest tool in America's online toolbox. But of course there are the people who take the sacred away message to a whole new demented level.

For the past month, in preparation for this article, I have had over 800 buddies on my buddy list. Transitioning my list to become the most diverse collegiate buddy list ever and then to monitor these buddies every single day was no easy task. Laughing at them was. So a quick thank you to everyone who contributed, and if any of you reading go to Purdue, Notre Dame, UNLV, Boston College, NYU, or the University of Illinois and see your material being ripped to shreds, I hope you'll think twice next time before leaving up something stupid. The intensity of this blatant offensiveness is as follows.

Level 5 – Pissed Off at the World

“Fuck you professor Gilstein. I'm not going to your class. I'm going to nap instead fucker.”

Alright, this is somewhat acceptable. Yes we know you don't want go to the class being taught by professor asshole, and you have related your whereabouts (pouting in bed). But there's something empty about your threat (unless Professor Gilstein has you on his buddy list).

Sometimes you just have to feel bad for a defenseless away message, attacked by a user with seriously developed hate issues. Some examples:

“I'm turning gay.”

Obviously angry at every woman ever created.

“Now how can I be so blind. When you keep coming back again. IT'S NOT OKAY TO PLAY THIS GAME OF SEE-SAW WITH MY HEAD!” –Sozzi

Initially, I interpreted this as a girl with a guy who's playing head games with her and literally driving her so crazy that she is willing to display her insanity online for everyone to see, including him. In retrospect she is playing head games with him too, by showing he likes a head game too. (Now I think I've made this relationship out to be more physical than emotional.)

“Liars Suck.”

Someone has lied to him, but what he's really saying is, “I haven't told you yet because I am playing coy for now in hopes that you realize this is for you and you will approach me first because I am too much of a pussy to confront you.”

Level 4 – Dumped

It's always obvious when someone gets dumped and feels compelled to share it with everyone. Then there are the pathetic Away Messages whose users makes it clear to the world that they are not only extremely vulnerable, but are in fact are too depressed to cover up the fact that they're now permanently jaded by the whole experience.

Quoting country songs were the most common in this particular situation:

“Had I known my heart would break. I would have loved you anyway.” –Trisha Yearwood

Which really means I am picking up the pieces of my broken heart you emotionally ripped out chest and tore up. So now I am posting up an away message you can't rip to shreds like you did my heart. And now you'll know exactly how I feel you bastard.

“Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs. She's like the wind.” -Patrick Swayze

Oh sweet Jesus just pick up your diploma and see if you can get an internship for Lifetime you emotional pansy. Oh and I am sure it's a guywho left it. The screenname (which I will keep anonymous to prevent any online attacks) gave it away, so to speak.

Or even taking songs and rewriting the lyrics to fit your specific situation:

“If the first cut is the deepest then why does it hurt so much.”

Why don't you just write “Sitting in my room listening to depressive break-up pop music. Because getting over you is going to be like getting over food poisoning.”

My favorite is when the dumper strikes back by using their away messages as missiles in a flawless counter attack generating an all out war for everyone who knows them to witness the craziness first hand…

“Cuz I'm the one that jaded you.” –Aerosmith

Stop blaming me for you not being able to handle breaking up emotionally. Keep eating that ice-cream biatch.

Level 3 – Post-Sex Note

“Love in a elevator. Living it up when I'm going down. Loving it up til I hit the ground.”

Could be clever if they did have sex in the elevator. Not so much if he just had sex and just listened.

“Why you think your girls wanna tag along? Them birds is jealous, my words embellished, plus they heard i kiss every curve and crevice..” -Ludacris

I'm pretty confident that anyone quoting Ludacris definitely just got laid. Why else would he be quoted? Seriously.

“I've heard that a steamy 15 minute shower will wash away all of your dirty deeds you've participated in for the day.”

I hope this person was smart enough to block her parents while this message was up. Imagine returning to your room and finding an IM from your father, “Honey I hope to god you're referring to soccer practice today and nothing else. Otherwise I will pull you out of school and enroll you in the nearest nunnery. Have a good day. Let me know how the car is running.” I'd never be able to go home again. Ever.

Level 2 – Too Much Info

No one but your personal stalker gives a shit. Don't leave every single detail of your day. We all live demanding hectic lives but that's no reason to leave a meticulous away message that's as super-boring as your super-busy day.

“Class til noon. Then a quick bite to eat. Maybe if I have time to check my email @ the lib before my next class at 1. From then it's to meet with my psych group which will probably last til 4. Gym til five thirty, dinner meeting, then swim practice, after that back in the room for a quick shower before studying at the lib til the wee hours of the morning, then sleeping.”

Take a minute. Let it all seep in. I know. It's sad. This person clearly mistook herself for the President of the United States by her up to the minute schedule. If Bush had an away message it wouldn't even be that long, probably something like “BRB…off making important decisions.”

Even something like “reading psychology, doing math or physics, reading math or physics, banging my head against a wall, huddled in a corner…I am pretty sure that I am doing something..” is tolerable but only because they mentioned hurting themselves.

Then there are the fuckers that leave their away message in a different language:

“Estoy en la biblioteca con mis amigos. Yo te quiero mi novio mucho. El es muy guapo.”

What's more pathetic than that is the person who's home alone on Friday night and finds on online translator to find out what the person is saying.

Level 1 – Simple But Clever

Simplicity people. I can't stress this enough. Simple but clever. It's not that hard. You're paying thousands of dollars for your education. Prove you've got something in there.

“Getting jiggy with it at the Barn Dance.”

I'm a party, and I'm probably dancing.

“On today's all new ‘Eric's Life…' Eric takes more flack from Erin as she abuses him physically as well as mentally about being a Kollen Hall ‘traitor.' Eric struggles to resist the temptation that will arise at dinner-hot fudge. Special Guest Appearance: Erin ‘I hate Eric' Hughes.”

Super creative. This one is definitely a plus. Anger and wit combined coherently. Well done.

And no away message article would be complete without a few rules…

Simple Rules of the Away Message

1. Never misspell an away message. It suggests that you're severely uneducated. Example: “Pasted out… zzzz…”

2. You know when someone hooked up when they're away message from last night “Boozing & Partying” is still there the next morning at noon.

3. Do not use the same away message every single time. People finally stop checking to see what you're doing if you leave the same ridiculously uninspiring quote “Carpe Diem.” The only thing that should be seized is your screenname.