Instant Messaging is killing the happy hour.
There, I’ve said it.
Instant messaging (IM) has become a tool that we use at work and its use is encouraged. It’s great to zap a quick message to someone who may be away from his or her desk like: ‘would you drop by when you get a chance? I have a question about…’
The desk and cell phone voicemail makers have made it quite a process to pick up a message with pass codes, waiting for the introductions, press ‘1’ to listen, to finish before finally getting to the message. When was the last time you listened to a voicemail before calling the person back? The wonderful caller ID tells you who called and when and all you need to know is what.
Enter IM. It tells you if a person is online, in a meeting, busy, away, or just sitting at their desk patiently waiting for a new IM to arrive. IM also allows for transfer of some files, and server paths. With just a few clicks, information is at your fingertips.
IM is also a wonderful tool for chatting. It allows you to have conversations unbeknownst to people who you would just as soon not hear what you have to say. Most people would call this gossiping. And it is, but it seems more innocent by silently typing back and forth as opposed to talking in the halls, risking the subject of your conversation accidently overhearing juicy tidbits about them.
I remember back not so long ago, before IM’ing and even before email, IM’s predecessor. Those were the days my work group would meet for happy hour on Friday’s after work. Picture a relaxed setting of friends in a local bar or restaurant, spending several hours rehashing the week’s events at work. The gripes, the innuendos, the rumors of office hook-ups and break-ups, the gossip that made happy hours, well, happy.
We don’t do happy hours any more. What do we have to talk about? It’s all there in our IM record. IM even has what Microsoft has termed ‘emoticons’, little cartoon smiley faces, crying faces, winking, blinking, sunglass-wearing faces that may be added to your IM. There are also emoticon beer mugs and martini glasses.
We now lift a few emoticons on our Friday IM’s. Then we head for home. Happy hour exists only in our little world of electronic chat.