Today’s society is a great deal different from 20 years ago, Technology, more and more is becoming a vital asset in our everyday lives. Some people have become so dependent upon their computer, that without it they feel lost and unable to communicate with others. Instant messaging has become a very beneficial and convenient form of communication worldwide. First, there is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way we communicate. For many of us, e-mail has virtually replaced traditional letters and even telephone calls as the choice for correspondence.
Every day, billions of e-mail messages are sent out. E-mail has been the most rapidly adopted form of communication ever known. In less than two decades, communication has gone from obscurity to mainstream dominance (Nardi, Whittaker, 1993). In our fast-paced world, sometimes even the rapid response of e-mail is not fast enough. Computer users have no way of knowing if the person who is receiving the e-mail is online at that particular moment or not.
Also, if one is sending multiple e-mails back and forth with the same person, you normally have to click through a few steps to read, reply and send the e-mail. This is why “instant messaging (IM)” has gained popularity. “More advanced instant messaging software clients also allow enhanced modes of communication, such as live voice or video calling” (Marycz, Cutrell, Horvitz, 2000). Because instant messaging is a form of communication, it is carried out through constant messages sent back and forth from one member to another.
Instant messaging allows one to maintain a list of people they wish to interact with. A person can send messages to any of the people in your list, often called a buddy list or friend list, as long as that person is online. Sending a message opens up a small window where the sender and receiver can type in messages that both of you can see (Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN, Skype) (Singh, 2000). Therefore, instant messaging allows you to quickly exchange messages with your online friends. Unlike email, instant messages appear as soon as they are sent.
Rather than a simple few digits on a phone, it is more common to just click on your computer’s mouse with a few words typed on a keyboard and then they are all set. Some may say that the instant messaging is a very impersonal way of communicating, which is quite understandable because at times words cannot quite express completely what it is someone is trying to express…such as a tone of voice in order to fully understand what it is someone said. Some make it seem as though instant messaging is just a cold, heart less conversation of words, but I find this not to be true.
Internet companies have made reinforcements to the instant messaging system where if you wanted to express that were happy or sad, you could choose from a variety of face expressions on a smiley icon list (Grinter, 2002). Last, instant messaging has brought about more positive features to our communication system rather than negative. The only argument that some may have against the computer written language is that it just does not seem to compare to the good old fashioned one- on- one voice conversation.
For the physically or mentally disabled, this form of instant messaging communication has made it much easier for them to express and communicate to others. “The most important finding is that IM by college students does not look like bad writing” (Baron, 2003). In conclusion, as internet users, we should encourage technological communication to the fullest extent. Instant messaging does not inhibit communication, but rather it creates more opportunities, as well as possibilities to contact others… all at your fingertips… literally!