Thursday, February 06, 2003

"He has frankfurters with everything, even vegetarian dishes. It's driving me mad." - whispered commentary on Papa's cooking this evening.
Just as I was recovering from the BigFatWobblyArse(tm) spread of Christmas and beginning to squeeze back into my size 10 smart black bootcut trousers, Chinese New Year has come upon me and encouraged fleshly growth in unwanted areas. Not that I'm complaining as this is an excellent and much appreciated break from the tooth-grindingly depressing passage of time from piss-poor January through still-broke February to holy-shit-I've-got-to-sort-out-my-taxes March - but still, a girl can have too much sweet and sour pork. And frankfurters. Contrary to my father's belief, you really can have too many frankfurters. Oh yes.

In other news, I've been considering the etiquette of Instant Messaging. If I log on and see my IM friends are online and they can see me, is it more or less polite to say hello? Personally, when I log on and see people are online, I will say hello, no matter how busy I am and no matter how unlikely it is that I will be able to keep up a conversation, and regardless of whether or not I am guaranteed to get a reply - just because... well. Hmmm. How to say it...?

It's lame, but I think logging into IM is a bit like walking into a room or a public place; if you see someone you recognise, you say hello. I won't cut them, as the delightful Oxbridge phrase goes. However, this personal preference really only works when the involved parties are all crossing paths in and around the internet. If I'm logged on all day as I am at work (and I actually *have* to be logged on because our office is spread over two floors and several poky rooms... like, open-plan office my arse), it becomes less the case of passing people in cyber space and stopping to have a pleasant chat while web-hopping, and more like I'm some sad git hanging around an information superhighway street corner heckling everyone who logs on and is visible to me. My self-imposed IM etiquette suddenly collapses and I'm confused as to what the correct and commonly appreciated approach to IM actually is.

Why did I start thinking about this? Two reasons: I got stopped by a Bible-basher on the Tube home this evening and saw a slight parallel between his behaviour in RL and mine in IM: he was wandering up and down the same carriage and probably had been there all day, approaching every person who happened to board this train and this particular carriage with his own brand of god's word: "Don't be a sinner, be a winner, let god guide you today and be saved tomorrow!"

And then I came home and surfed through some Livejournals, one in particular caught my eye, I saw this person was online and logged in for IM so out of the blue, unsolicited and possibly unwelcome, I said hello and commented on the LJ. It all went well but was hardly the start of a beautiful relationship and it got me wondering - even if I can see a person is logged on for IM, does it mean unsolicited IM is acceptable? Is that the point of the "online now" icons and IM visibility, to advertise you're available for communication to whoever and for whatever? Or is it more subtle than that and there's actually some unspoken but widely known rulebook of how, when and why it is acceptable to get in touch?

Hmmm. I'm off to ponder meaningfully and stroke my imaginary beard. Discussion, debate and defamation to the usual place please.

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