Instant Messaging for Introverts, or Rude is Plain Old Rude

by Carla Schroder

Instant Messaging for Introverts
This is an excellent article about the intrusiveness of modern "always on" communications tools, especially instant messaging. The author framed it as an introvert vs. extrovert problem, which I'm not sure is a correct assessment- to me it's manners vs. rudeness. Some folks think because they have instant messaging it's OK to be constantly interrupted, or to constantly interrupt other people for every trivial thing. Well, no, it's not OK.


Dan Sickles
2008-04-07 11:59:43
Some people have email notification set to the highest freequency and respond immediately to everything. If you don't respond to their email immediately, they call and ask why you didn't respond. They are interrupt-driven. They react but can't act. They were my boss once.
Matt Doar
2008-04-07 12:19:05
Personally, I just don't like having my focus moved so often. However, there are plenty of under 35 year-olds who seem to work with it. Maybe it's just generational?
Russell Coker
2008-04-07 17:06:56
I don't think that there is any problem with getting out of the shower to answer the phone. The only down-side to it is getting the floor wet.

I believe that taking an occasional call when meeting friends is OK, it's only a problem if there are many calls. Even taking a number of calls can be acceptable in some situations (EG meeting a friend who is searching for a new job - turning down a call from a recruiting agent is never a good idea).

The only really bad thing is taking a call during a lecture, play, or other public performance. Even then if someone sets their phone to vibrate and just leaves the room it doesn't bother me when I'm giving the lecture.

2008-04-08 18:24:41
... i dunno how i would get things done without IM -- and twitter is incredibly handy as it's IM that follows you away from your computer. I can be camping, sitting by a lake with my feet dangling in, and still be arranging speakers for the next linuxchix meetup. It's not an IRQ - i can wait 15 minutes, even an hour or two before responding.
It's only a chain if you let it be a chain.
2008-04-10 19:14:44
I wrote about this on my personal blog from the perspective of being someone with Asperger's syndrome (a form of autism). The interrupt-driven mindset is even harder for me to maintain than for the average neurotypical (non-Asperger's / autism) person. (I don't want to link to my personal blog here because it is not about technology and is highly political.)

I mentioned how dangerous using the cell phone while driving is, especially for us Aspies. Some guy responded by using my personal blog as a sales platform for some product that makes sure your hands stay on the wheel when you're on the cell phone. Way to miss the point, dude! The point being, that unless you're writing software to handle life-or-death situations -- which are extremely rare -- there's *no reason* for any corporation to expect you to be chained to your cell phone, IM, text messaging, etc. It's a corporate mindset that I'm getting sick of, and sadly, it's spreading to academia also (where I'm currently working).

Yeah, those extreme-programming daily huddles are great, but that won't work if people are throwing fits because you don't answer them within one minute.

I don't use IM and I don't answer my cell phone unless I feel like it.

To answer Matt Doar's question, it probably is at least somewhat generational (I'm 49), but I think the under-35's are making a mistake if they believe they are being more efficient by living a interrupt-driven lifestyle. They've never heard of queueing interrupts for later response, it seems.