LearnFacebook Chat not so chatty?

Mel
writes on April 23, 2008

Today saw the launch of Facebook Chat to the masses and it will be interesting to see what impact this will have on our daily lives and communication methods.

Everybody that I know now has a Facebook account. When I’m out in bars, guys no longer ask for your number (maybe it’s just me!) but instead they check whether you’re on Facebook. I have my suspicions that this is so that they can remind themselves of what you look like the next day, but that’s a whole different subject matter.

For me the introduction of Facebook Chat means a couple of things (positive and negative) :-

For a start it means that I won’t have to try and explain AIM to my friends and family any more. For some reason, the fact that Facebook have introduced it means that they will trust it, embrace it and be chatting like chatty chattersons in no time. I think it could become for instant messaging what the internet explorer icon still is as a browser for many people.

However, for myself, it also brings some issues. I have a number of work contacts as Facebook friends as well as just my old school friends and “weekend buddies”. Whilst I love the idea of being able to use Facebook Chat with my non-tech friends to cajole them into getting ready a little quicker on a Saturday night – I’m also opening myself up to chatting with lots of people that I don’t know that well and it can become a little overwhelming, not to mention time consuming.

In an ever increasingly busy world, Facebook (and Twitter) provide a low maintenance method of keeping in touch with the people in your lives – just glancing at status updates tells you what’s going on in their lives without having to spend time on the phone or writing emails (tip: mothers always appreciate calls home this said!). What I love about this is that you can choose when to get in touch – it’s not intrusive, or should I say – wasn’t intrusive.

Facebook Chat appears to be the complete opposite of everything that I loved about Facebook. Unless you specifically choose to appear offline, any of your contacts can start chatting with you whenever they feel like it. To quote Lisa “email used to be the productivity enemy number one!” but I can easily see Facebook Chat quickly overtaking. Michael Arrington soon discovered this when he went out for dinner having forgotten to log out of Facebook, only to return to a swarm of messages.

Feedback on the Twitterverse has been mixed, but many people, myself included, are planning to stay permanently offline. Could that mean the sound of tumbleweed for Facebook Chat? Only time will tell…

0 Responses to “Facebook Chat not so chatty?”

  1. I find it fairly inoffensive but the thing I have noted the most is the fact that NO-ONE is ever there. Does this indicate that everyone has it turned off or that facebook, amongst my contacts and friends at least, (most of my contacts are admittedly a bit edge-casey) is turning into a dead-zone.

  2. Hi Mel,

    Two quicks points – your comments on bringing IM to the masses, and in particular ‘I think it could become for instant messaging what the internet explorer icon still is as a browser for many people.’ I fully agree with, and having recently seen the speed of take-up for a friend, who had not used IM services previously, I’d be very interested to see the take-up since Facebook launched the service.

    Secondly, what Joshua mentioned is particularly apt and comes off the back off Facebook fairly recently introducing more controls in what groups and circles your contacts should be apart of, and therefore helping control fears of privacy and the whole friend contacts/business contacts divide.

    Good post!

    Paul

  3. Judson – you’ve now given away your secrets – anyone you meet will be able to work out how much you like them, haha.

    Joshua – to be honest, I wasn’t aware of the plans for friend lists with chat. That would definitely make all of the difference and make the site a lot more appealing to me…

  4. Hi Mel,

    Good post – but something no-one has mentioned is the use of Friend Lists. Although these haven’t been introduced yet into chat, Facebook have said that this will be happening – which will mean you can appear offline or online to work colleagues/weekend buddies/good friends/family etc as you see fit.

    This will make a big difference and will, I think, make Facebook the most representative of any social graph out there.

    Josh

  5. totally agree.

    I always like to think of it like this:

    People who I have just met, get my email.
    People who I’ve met through a friend or know a little better get my facebook.
    People who are friends of mine get my AIM screen name.

    So you’d think this would warp my system a bit. But so far it hasn’t. In fact, I really haven’t seen to many people on so far.

    It should be interesting :).

  6. To make you feel better Mel – If I see you in a bar, I STILL would prefer your phone number!

  7. I guess Facebook chat isn’t really for people like us.

    For those amongst us that are tech savvy enough to use an IM client I don’t think this is a big deal. However, for my sister who doesn’t know her AIM from her MSN the opportunity to chat to her friends in real time will be huge. Facebook is no longer the thing we used at uni to arrange our nights out and share pictures of the aftermath because now our sister, parents and pet cats are on Facebook.

  8. Been prodding it with a stick this afternoon and I’m kind of ambivalent about it. I like the passivity associated with a lot of Facebook features. I login to see what information is flowing between my contacts and what they’ve been sharing. When I log into Facebook it doesn’t automatically mean I’m available for random chat about last weekend etc.

  9. Gianni – I totally agree – this is also made worse by the fact that there’s no clear way of being notified that a message is waiting for you if you’re on a different tab 🙁

  10. Mel, my issue with the new FB chat is the fact that it is browser-based only. For now it is completely useless, unless they offer Jabber/XMPP access. Then I can use my desktop client (Adium, iChat, Trillian, &c..) to effectively control privacy. Not to mention the hassle of actually having to check your browser. So until then I will also be remaining “offline”.

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