Instant messenger (IM) programs have had a large impact on communication. It is a form of instant communication like talking on the phone or in-person. We can send a message and get an immediate response from someone else. We can hold conversations (or chats) with several people at once, which we cannot do on the phone or in-person.
The most popular IMs are AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, and ICQ. I have accounts on all four (I’ve never used my ICQ account), but prefer them in the order I’ve listed. I also have the most contacts/buddies/friends on each IM in that order.
Back in the day, to have a conversation with someone that was online you either had to respond back and forth through email or join a chatroom. Both are a pain in the ass. IMs have improved this immensely and have added a lot of extra features. The greatest advantage IMO is the ability to see when other people are logged into the service and if they are “away” or not. Away messages could be a whole new topic in itself. AIM has the most customizable away messages in my experience.
I can remember being back in college and instead of walking into the next room or yelling to a roommate, we’d chat on IM. We didn’t have to go find the phone and call downstairs to find someone who wanted to go grab some food. We could just switch over from the paper we were writing to IM and hit up multiple people at once. It was a whole new definition of laziness. Because of IM, the “freshmen 15” has turned into the “freshmen 20.”
IM is so convenient and easy that I can’t think of something that could take it’s place. I’m sure that someday something will (maybe some new form of video chat), but it will have to be easy to use, full of features, and just amazing. IM is here to stay for awhile. Send me a message…what are you waiting for!