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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

No need for clothes or an open mouth

Back in the disadvantaged days of old, communication used to be a complete hassle. For one thing, if you wanted to transmit an idea, you actually had to open your mouth. Thankfully, just like the pressing issues of nosehair removal and nondancing soda cans, modern technology has found a solution for the vocalized speaking requirement in that people can converse by typing messages into their computers. 




Take a walk into any residence and I guarantee you that a certain sound will be reverberating through the hallway. No, I'm not talking about Dave Matthews. Dorm rooms, apartments and suburban basements alike echo with the irritating bleeping and blooping of America Online's Instant Messenger, a technologically advanced communication network that allows young people to conduct their inane conversations over the Web. 




Certainly, the fact that people on opposite sides of the country can communicate through their computers in real time constitutes a significant technological achievement. For college students, Instant Messenger presents a means of staying in touch with friends at home and around the country without worrying about long-distance phone charges. It also offers the chance to practice the difficult keystrokes involved in typing the words 'sup' and 'dude.'  




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Since the typical user of Instant Messenger needs to reserve button-pushing stamina for important endeavors such as Sega Dreamcast and switching the channel to MTV while 'Love Cruise' takes a commercial break, an entire set of online abbreviations has developed. Consequently, efficiency at online correspondence necessitates knowledge of an entirely unique language, including such cryptic phrases as 'Sup dude, lol at the mp3, ttyl ;-).'  




For me, the main problem with Instant Messenger is that it tends to distract me from the important tasks of my day, such as studying, cleaning, laundry and sometimes even bathing. To put it simply, talking online is about as addictive as a chocolate-flavored cigarette laced with crack cocaine and stamped with a guarantee of sex.  




The ability to have a conversation without having to hear or see the other party has had interesting effects on social interaction. For one thing, I often find myself sending Instant Messages to people I don't normally talk to and don't necessarily like very much. For some reason, hearing Chad brag about his fraternity's 'bitchin' all-night tighty-whitey rager' is a lot less irritating when it comes in computerized form. 




In addition, the ability to communicate without being seen or heard has benefited my social life in a variety of different ways. Many of the personal problems that once served as barriers to acceptable social behavior, including nudity, halitosis and simple unattractiveness, have been overcome by the revolution in online communication. 




It is important to remember that Instant Messenger allows for incredible anonymity, and you can never be certain of the identity of your fellow conversant. I have found that it is very enjoyable to sign on under my roommate's screen name and attempt to ruin his life by relaying interesting tidbits to his acquaintances. Once, I had one of my roommate's romantic interests convinced that he was seeking psychological assistance for a chronic bedwetting problem.  




Although it is certainly habit-forming and often very annoying, Instant Messenger offers a cost-effective and easy way to stay in touch. What could be better than an invention that allows you to talk to friends without having to open your mouth or put on clothes? 

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