0230D: We Don't Really Chat Anymore

Before the Facebook News Feed, we had chat. And similar to the many different mobile messaging apps we have today, we had a glut of instant messaging platforms out in the wild. Yahoo Messenger got a good toehold since a lot of people had Yahoo Email accounts in Asia while the US had a similar trend with AIM and MSN Messenger growing user bases based on email users.

And before we would chat all the time. It was important to have a good contact address book of everyone's chat accounts since different friends stayed on different platforms. I used to be a proud user of apps like Pidgin or web services like Meebo since it allowed one to log into multiple platforms at the same time and maintain conversations within a single user experience.

But things like the Facebook News Feed shifted the conversation from individual chat sessions to one shared stream. Now you get the feeling of talking with your friends in a particular space and being open to other people joining in. When Google added chat to Gmail, it was a demonstration that instant messaging didn't need to be a standalone experience and could exist alongside other services. Other providers followed suit but of course Facebook's mastery of the News Feed made the addition of chat a no-brainer. And thus we see Facebook as such a powerful communication tool - the most effective messaging platforms are the ones that already have all your friends on it.

The shift isn't necessarily a good or a bad sort of change - it depends on the situation and the people involved, I suppose. But sometimes I miss the greater one-is-to-one interaction between people, even in virtual spaces. I feel this every now then - this weird feeling of missing chatting both in public chat rooms or just one-is-to-one. People don't really chat or even SMS - they post status upates and expect friends to notice something's up. And that's weird.

The seeds of my relationship with Tobie began online. Daily instant message conversations paint the picture of how we came to know one another better and how we fell in love and how we ultimately got together. Ever since we got together, the chats would continue as we're in near-constant contact with one another.

Google Chat. Yahoo Messenger. Google Wave. Shared Google Docs. So many different tools over the years and now we mainly bounce between Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger. Our chats continue and the sort of define my progress through each and every day. But I rarely chat with others outside of work and coordinating various weekend gaming activities.