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2003-03-05 9:50 a.m.

I am starting to think that people who instant message me maybe are actually clinically retarded—big foreheads, needing guidance, unable to navigate social situations which are easy for most people. Or maybe these random strangers with computers have just never had a single conversation before, EVER, and they decide they should try out their first time with me.

All I know is they are sure bad at it. They don't introduce themselves. They have nothing to say—neither questions to ask nor information to offer.

It feels like I am being hounded by barking dogs that seem to just want to say "hi" and nothing else. Dogs don't want a response and they have nothing important to say—they are just happy that they barked at that tree or leaf or squirrel. They walk back to where they started, smug that they barked at this or that or nothing at all. Today was a success for that dog. BARK! BARK! BARK! Hi! Hi! Hi!

I just don't want to be barked at. Life is short, and time is too precious to waste like that.

So here is my suggestion to people: If you want to start IMing with someone you don't know, the best thing is to first introduce who you are and how you got their screen name. Then tell them why you wanted to talk with them in the first place.

Once that is out of the way, ask some questions, share an anecdote or two about your life. Let them know something personal about yourself—something which makes you different from everyone else. Oh, and tell the truth. The internet is no excuse to do something which is ethically unjust—lie, cheat, steal, etc. Lying is never cool. Hiding behind the internet is not only cowardly, but it's also hideously dull.


"Hi, my name is Jennifer. I got your screen name from my friend Bubba. I hear that you really like Sifl and Olly. I hate Sifl and Olly so I was hoping to battle you."

"Hi, my name is Joey. I got your screen name from my friend Señor Bubba. He said that you liked cliché and horrible emo music. I'm trendy and uninteresting, too! Wanna cyber?"

"Hi, my name is Jill. I got your screen name from my friend Dr. Bubba. He said that you juggled blowfish livers, and I wanted to arrange a time when you could punch me in the face while I masturbate."





This is the instant message "conversation" that started my crisp, sunny California Wednesday:

dude: hi

Justin: "Hi my name is <YOUR NAME>. I got your screen name from <SHORT EXPLANATION>. How are you?"

Justin: Why don't you start over?

dude: i apologize, sir.

dude: i'm matt. i've been reading your diaryland for a while.

Justin: Hi Matt!

dude: i'll leave you alone.

Justin: No need to leave me alone. I just think that maybe you might have more luck introducing yourself to people if you actually, well, introduced yourself.

dude: i was waiting for a response first i guess.

Justin: weirdo

dude: heh

<LONG PAUSE> Here is where my new conversationalist and new best friend "Matt" said nothing for a painfully long time. At this point, it wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that plate tectonics yielded more immediate results than this conversation—if you can call it a conversation at all.

Justin: So, you are pretty good at conversations, huh? I can tell.

dude: shut up, ass. i just found you interesting is all.

dude: and ive got nothing better to do with my time but to bug strangers like yourself.

Justin: Oh, I get it. You are bored, and have nothing better to do than to talk with me. Think about that. That is a lot different than, "I think that maybe I can teach you something and am excited to talk with you" or "I read something you wrote and it meant a lot to me and I wanted to talk with you". Instead, you are saying that talking with me ranks at the bottom of the list with TV -- you do it only because you have nothing better to do. I mean, that is like saying that, "You aren't that cool, but I don't have a date to the prom -- will you go with me?"

dude: goodness.

Justin: People are so unaware of their actions and words -- the implications that they carry.
At this point I decided that I was not going to talk with "Matt" anymore. Not that he was talking with me in the first place. It seemed like maybe he was expecting me to entertain him or something. Sigh.