Sunday, May 21, 2006

AIM Culture

Around 9th grade I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up (whenever that is). I wanted to be a writer. Such a profession requires a person to fully know their character, and therefore would mimic the actions and feelings of real life people. This would nicely transfer into believe plots and characters, and a better piece overall. For the last six or seven years now I have been astutely observing different quirks of teenagers. At least, that's when I tell the cops when they ask why I'm outside of a sixth grader's window with binoculars. Pervert, they say. Good student, I say, while trying to hide the erection by turning 45 degrees to the right.

The main form of communication between kids these days really blossomed when I was growing up. AOL Instant Messanger is the place to go when you want to make a conversation with someone without the awkward pauses of a conversation on the phone. You can also use that erase button, so you don't blurt something out like "well I want to fuck I MEAN HANG OUT!" AIM, as it's called in the hood, has grown with my generation. And, over time, different trends have come and gone. For example, chain ims have been drastically cut down. This is a good thing, because I am going to murder the next person that sends me the "AOL doesn't know if your screen name is active so send this to 20 people and annoy the fuck out of them." I have gotten over 30 of those so far. They are fake, people. When will you learn?

One new form of communication is the away message. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, you put up an "away" when you aren't at your computer to warn people of where you persently are. It is also a good way to filter out the ims that you don't want while always keeping it on and having the ability to talk with it up. I wouldn't know how incredibly awesome that feature is though. Nope. Not in the least.

The away message has become its own form of expression. For example, if you are depressed, you'll put up some dark and terrible lyrics from Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, or some really sad *NSync song. People will use the away message almost like a barometer for how you are feeling. I get many disconcerted ims from people when they see "everything is less than zero" on my away. It is not depression that drives me to put that up as much as my love for the Elvis Costello song. The away is also a great way to show how you feel after a break up, after a sports event, or any other affair.

Some people do not properly know how to use the away message, however. I have already gone off on people who think they are so important that they must give you a full run down of their day's activities. What I have not gone into, however, is the art of the away. If you have an away with lyrics, no one reads past four lines. The apple of your eye will not read those Coldplay lyrics when it's the whole goddamn song and all of the choruses are written out. Your expected reaction of "aw, is that for me?" is replaced by "man that bitch is wordy!" The sad thing is that we all read away messages when there is nothing to do, and some people have boring ones like the extra wordy kind. Short, concise, to the point.

When did people decide that when emphasizing words they would throw on the extra letters as consonants? People say stuff like "I want to go to sleeeeeeeeep." No one says "I want to go to sleepppppp." What kind of an asshole says "SleePUH PUH PUH PUH PUH PUH PUH PUH?" It is the most annoying thing ever. Well, it is next to when someone is writing and feels the need to capitalize every other letter. Do YoU kNoW tHaT yOu LoOk LiKe An AsShOlE wHeN yOu Do ThIs? Apparently not. I also will never understand why people feel the need to shorten four- and five-letter words with numbers or misspellings. Is saying "cum" so much easier than saying "come?" Is "4eva" necessary when you can simply say "forever?" If I see someone say goodbye to me and with "l8r" I would be tempted to drive to your house and spit on your face. As Americans, we already butcher the English language practically beyond recognition. There is no need to go out of the way to ruin it further.

Another odd phenomena that has started recently is the term "faves." In a sentence it is used as, "great time with my faves!" Why do you have to tell your friends that they are your favorite people? Isn't that a bit redundant? If they weren't your faves, why would you hang out with them? "Yeah, I hung out with the b-team last night, cause they just aren't my faves right now." Who is going to put up an away with "decent time with the benchwarmers?" I do hope that there is one kid in each group who reads the aways and gets some sort of false pride that they are someone's favorites. Before they go to bed, they take the toothbrush out of their mouth and look in the mirror, saying with confidence, "I'm somebody's favorite!" I then hope that they hop in that lukewarm pool with a Bic and take yourself out of the gene pool while listening to that sad *NSync song in Jessica's away.

People also like to fool or trick you by putting text in the same text as the background or in a different font. It is as if they are trying to hide what they want to say but do so in a very easily decodable situation. It is somewhat akin to the Japanese giving out their military code in WWII followed by "ok, don't let the Americans know the code is such and such" in English. If you want to say that deep little message, just save us all the hassle of copy and pasting the text into an im box and changing it so it's legible. Oh, and you're not witty if your decoded message says "you're a loser if you can read this!" No, sir or ma'am, you are the loser for thinking of that hacky joke. It would have been more original and entertaining if it said "take my wife, please!"

Finally, there is a definitive pattern to profiles, or "buddy info," because you can't use the word "profile" for non-AOL members. It would be far too confusing, I guess. The top line is devoted to the guy or girl of your fancy, or in certain cases, the lack of such a factor in your life. If you're in college, the next line is dedicated to your school's name. If you are an incoming freshman, then it's the school and your year of graduation. If you're a girl, the next line is for your friends (or redundantly stated "faves). For guys, it might be sports team or a quote from your buddies. The use of deeeeeep lyrics (or "deeppppppp lyrics" if you want me to hate you) can be anywhere on the board. A new feature I have seen is the start of a lyric at the top and the end at the bottom. This is illegal. The bottom of the profile is allotted solely for people who have passed on. I have no idea why this structure was created, but it's as standard as a tax return. Try and find something different - I dare you.

There are fads in profiles as well. For some time, the "copy and paste this in your profile if..." and then there would be something hilarious like "YOU CAN'T WAIT FOR SUMMER" or "YOU SURVIVED A PIRATE BATTLE." No you didn't, stupid. And who the hell doesn't want summer? "Oh no, I can't go not learning and not waking up at 6:30! Whatever am I to do with my wasted brain power?!" I am also a fan of the windings character to start those things off, because apparently using the all-picture text didn't become trite after the age of eleven. Of course, I have given in to this after hating it for so long by putting in one for Seb, a...well, friend is too close, and peer is too cold, so...a former classmate who is in the army currently.

Then again, that isn't the first time that I have hated on something before giving in to it. If I didn't, you certainly wouldn't be reading this. Instead, only two of you would be hearing my rants while your eyes roll and ask "doesn't he get tired of hearing himself talk?" This is post number 59 - clearly I don't.


Anonymous said...

Manton, while you're almost entirely correct, your dissertation on the placement of objects in the profile isn't always correct. Mine is almost the exact inverse of your description.

Therefore -- PWNED.

-- e.

Anonymous said...

Ha yes! I really get a kick out of those extra consonants in sleeppppp. But I am surprised you didn’t tackle AIM’s more infamous acronyms...You know you love a good ROFL and TTYL every now and again.

Anonymous said...

too be honest, i am one of the people that shorten words like 4ever instead of forever. you wanna know y? it started off with me being incredibly lazy. and than it just became a habit. it probabbly is annoying, but what the hell, i realized i really AM too lazy to write the last 3 letters. k thnk u 4 readin this fine piece of writin tht i jus wroteeeeeeeeee -ps i enlongated the eeee on wrote just for you.

suj said...

so people don't always lol when they type "lol"...

but I actually loled during that post