When I did most of my away message writing, it was pre-facebook (pre-2004), though I also did some away message writing before the “status” thing on facebook that tried to put a semi-long-term spin on the away message theme. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was always the biggest and best way to chat online with people (and from what I can tell it still is, though I’m not very apt in it anymore), and even when you weren’t chatting, you left a little message for people to read while you were gone.
Now the content of those messages fell into a few main categories, at least from memory (again, I’m going off things that happened circa 2006 and prior). And even though it my still be current practice, I’m going to treat things as historical and write in past tense. Though from my recent AIM pseudo usage, things haven’t changed too much, except that maybe people use AIM a little less now that facebook is around to help them waste their time. But I digress…
One way to use away messages was to tell people where you were and/or what you were doing. This might also include the fact they one would “brb” (be right back) or such that you were reading but would take a break if someone wrote you. I think I did this on occasion, but I almost never used the away message for the purpose it was most likely intended for. There’s plenty of “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t” cyber stalking happening out there (and the advent of facebook added to that possibility — thank you very much Mark Zuckerberg), and I really didn’t feel like adding to the possibility of people knowing where I was at any given time. I’m sure no one probably cared and I’m making myself up to be more important than I am, but regardless of the reason, it wasn’t my practice.
Another similar practice was to share with people either something that had already happened or something that was to happen in the future. Sometimes this would be a promotion to attend a certain play or event someone was in, or it might have been some past event with significance that seemed interesting or funny. I would sometimes advertise an event, but I rarely did this.
One way I used away messages that I suppose would fit in this category is when I would vaguely sharing my emotional state or feelings with some kind of esoteric statement that really I only understood and knew the meaning to. Not that anyone cared, but this led me to try and read into other people’s away messages, thinking they might be trying secretly expressing some inner feeling, maybe even speaking directly to me (as I was doing at times). But probably not.
People might also just say general statements about life or their beliefs. Saturday night be filled with general statements about a football team winning or losing or about something someone had on their mind. This category is the approach I read a lot of when I’m looking at facebook statuses (though people do write a lot of actual “status” information there, too).
People would share links to websites or online videos. ‘nough said.
The final general category is pretty much contains any and everything else you could possibly think of. A lot of people would do quotes or song lyrics. I would sometimes try and write something clever or cute or sarcastic — maybe like (I just thought of this 10 minutes ago), “If the early bird gets the worm, ten just be the worm that shows up late.” I remember someone from camp telling me one summer they had enjoyed reading my away messages during the school year, even though we hadn’t really known each other during that time. It was a way to entertain and be entertained and take a short break.
On a side note there, I remember that when my computer crashed after college (but while I was still using AIM), one of the things I was saddest about was the fact that I lost so many of the saved away messages I had loved to use and held dear to me. I still kind of wonder what they were, but they are gone forever. Such is life.
Now why did I write all this (which, I must say, is far below par for me and blog posts)? Well, I thought that instead of a blog post (obviously that part didn’t happen this time), I might share some possible away messages that I thought about during the day — though as I was thinking more about them, I relized that my mind has started thinking about facebook status options instead of in terms of AIM away messages. And I remember how for so long I never even put a status into my profile. I guess, just as it happened with the cell phone, technology seems to such me in eventually (and that’s not always a bad thing).
So without further ado (or any more words), here is a part of my day in possible away messages/statuses:
eric left his spinach at the store.
eric is on YouTube! (See my first upload.)
eric loved riding a bike to work again.
eric really wishes he could get his facebook profile name to be in lowercase letters.
eric will go to bed before midnight!
eric’s couch is also his bed.
eric still needs to unpack (but that’s what the weekend’s for).
eric wrote an extremely long blog but is too lazy to edit or cut any of it.
I’ll be back soon, don’t you worry!