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I think this post is coming to its logical conclusion precipitously. There was a time when MSN was my answering service, where you could be reliably assured that a message left there for me would reach its recipient. I was always online, albeit with my status set to ‘Away’. More often then not, Away meant I was actually there but not interested in making the first step to talk to those who wanted to talk to me.

The people that made MSN worthwhile for me are disappearing. I could previously have the knowledge that Craig, Mubaraka, Alons, Gareth, Simon or another interesting Soul would be present for me to have a decent conversation. Now, today, I think I can categorically say that list has fallen to one person. And while the venerable Etu is a delight to talk to, I don’t want to go through all the bother of loading up MSN to snatch a few words with one who lives multiple time zones away. Our repartee while delightful, is infrequent and unreliable.

For them and for others that I want to stay in touch with I find myself going old school, returning to the arcane ways of email or moving forward into the brand new era that has been ushered in by Skype, promising easy and accessible voice communication to all that want to actually talk to me.

Like the realisation that those preceding me seem to have had, I find MSN unsatisfying and unreal. I don’t feel there is authentic communication any more in the MSN experience as I did once. Instead I prefer considerably the added nuance of voice and of the face to face meeting. The 70% of communication that is non-verbal is lost in a straight text exchange can reassert itself and create a conversation that can be deep, multilevelled and therefore much more enjoyable then the passive interaction of MSN. I loved the verbal sparring, wit, and humour that you can find on MSN, and perhaps I still do appreciate it. But for anything meaningful, for real interaction, I don’t think to rely on it much longer.

MSN feels like a time sink, into which wasted hours are poured for little return on investment. I would much rather, I now realise, spend my time writing and scribbling down my own thoughts, playing with ideas and reading and re-reading books that are the fertile soil in which ideas can grow. I’d rather learn something new, or do something different, or explore a new cranny of either the physical world or the immense expanse of cyberspace.

This comes up against the sage advice of Hunaid, given so piously at our Last Supper, against the risk of severing ties. I can understand the risk and another friend has also warned me that to act to0 rashly in cutting myself off from avenues of communication might hold disastrous consequences. Hunaid’s point, also equally valid, and perhaps right to give me greater pause, also seems less important in a world of mobile phones and Facebook, which I’ve embraced more enthusiastically; and as it goes straight to my email, is often as successful as MSN in getting a response from me nowadays.

While I cognitively understand the impact of such decisive termination, the overriding impression that I have at the moment is that I couldn’t care less. I don’t have the stomach to abide by the hollow experience of MSN conversations that don’t feel substantial in real life, that miss out much of the fruit of conversation that interaction actually harvests, those subtle extras that make experience fun. I don’t think I’ll let it continue.

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4 Comments

  1. That’s fair enough. I personally cannot even stand phone calls — face to face meeting is preferred. I find MSN frustrating in that it takes ages to exchange anything substantial, and then it is still limited. The closest one can get to sharing a heartfelt laughter is by sending “LOL”.

    I might be going back to emails. It lets you send more each time and you get much more time to get your thoughts together so the message is coherent and not full of spelling mistakes. It also removes the urgency to reply immediately. If you’re interested do drop me an email.

  2. so i take it i won’t be seeing you on msn anymore? wow.. that pretty much ends all our sporadic conversations ..

    • mtalib
    • Posted March 3, 2007 at 1:12 pm
    • Permalink

    No I will be online on MSN, it just won’t be my default position any longer. I’ll be online if I actually want to be online for some reason. It will no longer, for example, be starting up automatically when I start my computer.

    • Hunaid
    • Posted March 5, 2007 at 7:20 pm
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    I understand your feeling and view that possibly MSN or any IM no longer has the same novelty as it once did and meaningful conversations are hard to come by, however, i disagree with the notion you should stop using them because at the end of the day you could not care less. You said that you had reverted to old forms of communication such as emails and new ways of Skype it remains to be seen how frequently you use these forms to get in touch with your friends.

    Recently, i have neither found you on MSN nor on Skype i feel that you have a responsibility towards your friends to be ‘online’ whenever you can. I’m not saying that you have a big responsibility towards everyone in the world you have ever had a cyber conversation with up at least to the people who are on your list.

    You once said that the very thought that i was out there gave you strength but remember thats because whenever you wanted to talk to me you found me. You know that you are not so easy to get hold of and i’m not the only one who has said this so by reducing the chances of getting in touch with you is not a good idea.

    basically what i feel is that as an important person in my life and other’s lives you have a responsibility to be in touch with them and be available whenever they need you as we all have this responsibility towards you. How you get in touch i suppose is irrelevant .


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