Matt Farrington Smith
20/12/2010 17:04 | By Matt Farrington Smith, editor, MSN Windows Live

Instant Messaging Myths

This Windows Live editor debunks and scrutinises a plethora of modern instant messaging myths.

Windows Live investigates a number of instant messenger myths (© Image © Microsoft)

Does instant messaging count as real conversation? Is there really such thing as a 'private message'?  

Without further ado here are six of the most prophesised instant messaging myths.  

Instant Messaging is a shining example of the English language
Welcome to the dark and nefarious world of the instant message, abandon hope all ye who enter here. Ignore everything your English teacher taught you, punctuation - pff, what's that, and you there - step away from the dictionary.

There are a few important guidelines to follow: 

Confine your ramblings to lower case, caps aren't pretty and imply that you ARE SHOUTING. Unless you a genuinely angry person try to use caps sparingly, preferably when making a REALLY IMPORTANT POINT.

There's no excuse for poor punctuation and grammar, you don't grunt like a Neanderthal when away from your keyboard, so why butcher the language now? 

Download Windows Live Messenger 2011: FREE real communication
I hate to burst the bubble, but it isn't. To keep IT purists and geeks happy it is instead recognised as a different form of communication.  

You may be a silver-tongued Lothario in real-life but that doesn't mean it translates well electronically on a computer screen. Leave wooing that special somebody for a later date, especially bear this in mind when attempting to act the comedian. Chances are if you're not living the life of a troubled comic, there's a mighty fine reason for it. Sarcasm is also very tricky to pull off, and it is all too easy to offend the other participant.

To prove the point that humour doesn't translate well - take the humble smiley as an example. Repeat after me, it is not acceptable to end a relationship with a sad smiley face. Are you a complete ice maiden? all about the Emoticons
Admittedly some people view the use of smileys and emoticons as lame. The only rule here is don't be a girl and over gesticulate with smilies.

We must thank Harvey Ball back way back in 1963 for introducing us to this stylized representation of a human face. The smiley is usually bright yellow in colour with two dots as eyes and a half smile. Emoticons can be used to great effect to convey thoughts and feelings. What's more they are as popular now as ever, for instance use this nifty application to create your own! If in doubt, unleash the smiley. It's always a mood winner. 

...the best conversations are carried out with acronyms
Love them or loathe them, the short-sharp acronym has become the staple of instant messaging speak. An acronym or abbreviation is just a shortened version of a phrase and is composed by taking the first letter from each word. 

FYI (for your information) familiarize yourself with these staples: LOL (laugh out loud), BRB (be right back), BTW (by the way) and GTG (got to go). 

Grown-ups should resolutely NOT speak in acronyms, stop trying to relive your teenage years with a cringe-worthy display of uncool (think dad from the American Pie movies). Read our Messenger Acronyms 101 and avoid potential embarrassment.  

Instant Messenger conversations are private
Even private messaging isn't private. Indulging in an instant messaging conversation is like going on record. Once you hit that 'enter' key or press 'send' there is no clawing back. Messenger is definitely not the place to vent your emotional turmoil. 

If you're one of those lucky critters who can type at an alarmingly fast rate, watch your back. It is all too easy to fire off the odd inappropriate message to the wrong person. For instance please don't go sharing salacious office gossip with your boss - nobody wants to know if Tom and Susan shared a special moment in the pub. 

Think before you go postal via Messenger, don't let your fingers do the talking. 

I can hide behind my Messenger status
You are encouraged to customise your away status message. Unlike, hanging a large board outside your house, proclaiming it vacant for all to pillage and plunder.  

Messenger allows you to be economical with the truth - taking a few hours for lunch is allowed every now and again, but don't let a clearly false status outstay its welcome. If people can see you at your desk, chances are that you are 'Available', stop hiding man and do some work. 

The latest release of Messenger simplifies things even more, available, busy, away, or appear offline - this snappy choice of four should cater for just about every occasion.

Download Windows Live Messenger 2011: FREE

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