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Confessions of an AIM addict

Megan O'Neil | Tuesday, December 9, 2003

I’m coming clean. My parents will be ashamed, I know. It is time, however, for me to let go of those conversations that move slower than traffic on a football game weekend, to be free from those little yellow smiley faces.

Hi, my name is Megan and I’m an AIM-oholic.

Even as I sit here now expressing my desire for rehabilitation, I am chatting away with four different friends, darting from Microsoft Word to AIM. At this point I have typed about five times as much in those little gray boxes as I have on this page.

The situation is even worse when I am actually working on something important, like a philosophy paper. I would estimate AIM adds 90 minutes to every five-page paper I write. Further, it jeopardizes the coherency of whatever I finally do turn in to my professor.

The away message was designed to combat this problem, to empower those with a love for the latest, such as myself, with a tool to control themselves. It can be agreed however, that while an excellent concept, it has failed miserably.

First of all, the composing of away messages has become an art in and of itself. Some detail their entire daily schedule, while others reference inside jokes. It is not uncommon to see inspirational quotes from great minds such as Martin Luther King, Jr., or messages written in foreign languages. Indeed, some students do keep a list of convenient pre-scripted ones such as “class” or “dinner.” But admit it, you hate those boring one-worders whether you are addicted or not.

Second, even with my away message solidly posted, I cannot resist the urge to check my buddy list every ten minutes or so. On stressful days when my condition flares I will read every away message on my list of 107 screen names. Some of them require decoding, of course, and you could say I am inadvertently receiving a degree in away message analysis.

If AIM is so distracting, you might ask, why do you just not sign on at all? This would seem like the simple solution, but yet another misconception. My need to talk online and to check others’ away messages is such that abstinence is even more distracting than the alternative. I will think about who is on, and what messages are up, to the extent that I might as well be signed on anyway.

So the struggle continues, day in and day out. At this point, however, I would say it is a losing battle.