Monday, August 24, 2009

IM Status Message

Many people use their status messages of IM clients and micro-blog to express their feelings.
Looks pretty cool and very often you have the response or support that you want.
Some weeks ago I had a discussion with a friend about the actual meaning of a feeling can easily get lost in so short chunk of characters.

So today I put on my status text: "Biggest mistake of nature: Incompetence doesn't hurt."
I was actually making reference to a news where cops missed shots and hit innocent people, injuring some and killing one.

But it turns out, that the floating and vague phrase had impact in several colleagues and even ex-colleagues on my roster. Asking what was going on, if any project/people was failing, delayed or something.

I still think that the beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and the same sentence can have several meanings if read by several people.

So before you put status message about DRM for instance: "I hate you, you MUST die!", you should be careful, as besides people are not sure about it. In fact it pops up a doubt and the attention of everyone in your roster: "Who is he referring? Would be me?". The same thing can happen if you put "I Love You!". For sure there are some people that you definitely don't want to think this is for them.
Remember, your status will be showed usually to all your friends and co-workers.

In the other hand status messages shows themselves as really powerful broadcast tool, use it wisely, so you can get also very fast and good results with it.

"Writing a blog post..."


  1. i'd take the other angle to it - people should realise that others have different and alternative attitudes/mindsets/world views/cultural background/humour/etc and that, given the obvious lack of context from such a medium, making assumptions about the ultimate meaning behind a status message is a really silly thing to do without directly asking. i think your argument can potentially lead down a dangerous path of self-censorship.

  2. Much simpler way to confuse people:
    In French, you can have an ambiguity between the traditional translation of "Available" as "available to talk" and "available for a relationship".
    I let you now imagine the kind of reactions you can have from people in your contacts list (and ONE in particular...).

    All of that is the continuity of a very very old problem ;)

  3. @mick awesome comment!
    My argument was actually to be careful in order to make sure to be more precise on what you wanna communicate.
    If you also wanna communicate non-clear meaning phrases with its own goal, I'm all for it. (I'm actually an user of such thing)
    I personally often use non-clear status message with the intention of a reader's reflection in some topics.