One of the most delightful online applications for me is instant messaging (IM) or chat. Being able to communicate with someone in real time without the threat of a long distance phone bill is a big draw. An added attraction I’ve discovered is that people tend to make more humorous comments through chat than they do on the phone. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because the medium is less intimidating than the phone, or using humor is an easier way to communicate emotion through dry text, or maybe it’s just that the people I tend to chat with are naturally funny. Daughter is especially so. While we can’t phone each other up in the same house while using the land line, we can IM back and forth while each on a separate computer. (Laugh if you will, but the chat repartee can’t be beat, and it has a different quality from talking face-to-face, which we do plenty of, too.)
Much as I love IM, there is a particular point of chat etiquette that I am still learning to navigate – the speedy goodbye. Not having grown up with IM, I find that I’m not quite sure how best to say goodbye and sign off. It feels impolite to sign off while the other person is still online, even if I have something pressing to take care of on my end. I also think it’s rude to simply say “Bye!” and leave immediately. Instead, my goodbyes look something like this:
Me: Well, I have to think about getting going.
Thee: Yeah? What’s up?
Me: I have laundry to do. Great piles of it.
Thee: That sucks.
Me: Yeah. If I don’t do it, I won’t have any underwear for tomorrow.
Me: I’m wearing yesterday’s pair today, so things are desparate.
Thee: Glad I’m not in the same room with you! 😉
Me: LOL! Like you should talk! I’ve seen your bedroom floor. You can’t even manage to get your undies in the hamper.
Thee: Heehee! It’s a skill.
Me: Anyway, I’d like to stay and chat, but I’ve got to go.
Me: Laundry’s calling.
Thee: Sounds good. Have fun.
Me: Sure will. Haha.
Me: Good talking to you.
Thee: Same to you.
Me: Catch you later.
The process can be drawn out even further, sometimes to the point where I imagine it’s getting painful for the person I’m saying goodbye to. It’s like The Long Minnesota Goodbye. Have you heard of this? It’s an observation made by some author, maybe Howard Mohr, who wrote “How to Talk Minnesotan,” or Garrison Keillor on “A Prairie Home Companion.” I can’t remember who discussed it first, but if you’ve ever been at a gathering of Minnesotans, you’ve likely seen The Long Minnesota Goodbye. It starts a minimum of a good half-hour before someone intends to leave the gathering and includes several lingering goodbyes interlaced with final conversational points that simply can’t wait until the next gathering.
Perhaps my long IM goodbyes are merely an extension of being Minnesotan, except that Daughter doesn’t appear to suffer the same malady, even though she’s a Minnesotan, too. Her IM goodbyes are along the order of, “Gotta go! Bye!”, and she’s gone. No muss, no fuss. I could take a few pointers from her, couldn’t I?