Gmail Chat is the New AIM
AIM, with its elaborate sound effects and cutesy but cluttered design, has lost its appeal for me. There was a time when I, like many of my friends, left AIM constantly signed on, just in case some crucial or exciting message might pop up unexpectedly. But over time, the many irritations of AIM began to wear on me. I signed on less and less frequently, and eventually not at all.
Those advertisements at the top of the buddy list window would make loud and abrupt noises out of nowhere, which freaked me out. I’m through spending hours meticulously crafting witty away messages or tweaking my profile, and I’m definitely through reading other people’s away messages and profiles. The internet has come a long way, and there are far better ways to kill time. Like Facebook. Also, in the many long years I’ve been using AIM, I have acquired a lot of “buddies”. A lot of random buddies, many of whom I no longer care to chat with. It’s so awkward when some long lost acquaintance I occasionally partied with during my senior year of high school wants to kill time by IMing me. I have nothing to say, but at the same time, how can I blow someone off when we haven’t spoken in three or four years?
And then there was the issue of screen names. When I created my most recent AIM screen name (wildhoneypie07, in case you’re wondering), it was totally clever and cute, a fusion of a nickname and an inside joke, plus the year I could one day expect to graduate from college. Now, though, as a recent college graduate, it just seems silly and embarrassing.
Gchat, on the other hand, is so sleek, so streamlined, so…mature. Since it’s integrated into your email, it doesn’t seem childish and desperate to leave it open most of the time. Plus, it looks more professional if you’re pretending to work while chatting. And instead of pictures of post-it notes to indicate an away message and Zzz’s when someone is idle, Gchat gives me a simple green dot, orange dot, red dot, or grey dot to represent online, idle, busy, or offline.
We use our real names now, instead of silly nicknames, so you always know exactly who you’re talking to. Since Gmail is fairly new, all of your contacts are current and relevant people you actually want to talk to. And lest you think Gchat is all work and no play, the adorable emoticons do a cute little trick where they flip right side up and sometimes color themselves in.
Now if only Gchat would add a chatroom option and get rid of that creepy “chat history” feature, I’d be in chatting heaven. Just remember to go “off the record” before any potentially incriminating chats.