March 02, 2005

Instant Messaging: my drug of choice

Before I discovered instant messaging, I was a relatively good employee.

Aw hell, why bother with humility? I was a fantastic employee.

I would show up early, work late, wouldn't take a lunch break. I would actually anticipate problems, projects, and extra work I would eventually be asked to do and have it done in advance. I would do my job, and then clean up the messes of the people around me who couldn't successfully do their own. I was the posterchild of the overworked, underpaid college graduate who is clearly overqualified for their position but is just ignorantly, blissfully happy to have a job anyway. I would cite the downward-spiraling job market (in Seattle, anyway) and justify my superiors' assaults on good taste, manners, and general professionalism with ridiculous, humble remarks like "well, he's the boss", or "well, this is a wonderful learning experience for me".

Quite simply, I was a job snob, refusing to sink to the job performance mediocrity and petty complaints of my colleagues because I just didn't think it was right. I took no personal calls on the job, never checked my personal email, and generally strived for perfection in all aspects of my work.

Then, at the advice of a rebellious friend, I downloaded MSN instant messenger. And I think it was the combination of a general awakening to the crappiness of my job and exposure to the wonderful communications technology of IM that led me to this particularly pathetic point in my professional life (how's that for alliteration?):

In the last two days, I am quite embarrassed to admit, my sole motivation for going to work in the morning has been to see which of my "contacts" little blue torso icons indicate they are "online". Then, my day really begins in a way it never has before. I spend it "chatting" -- exchanging sarcastic stories and wry remarks with an assortment of my friends (who I have discovered also must be mediocre employees). I have actually caught myself typing a zinger about one person or another around me and then giggling out loud, which immediately brings on a fit of guilt and cover-up coughing.

The downside? I am in a constant state of panic that someone will discover I have fallen from my formerly comfortable moral high-horse and am now rolling gleefully around in mud-slinging conversation and comaraderie with my friends, who are mostly disgruntled employees or students, on "the clock".

I probably spend at least a total of 30 minutes per day on just frantically minimizing my IM screen as people walk past my desk. But the stress is all worth it -- IM is the perfect drug. Why?

  1. Just try to randomly test me for it.
  2. IM = instant gratification
  3. Instant Messaging has only one mild, but proven, side-effect: extreme apathy about all things important (job, school, responsibilities, self-respect, personal values, one's work ethic and better things to do with one's time, in general).
Why are we still talking about legalizing marijuanna?

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