One of the great features of Instant Messaging clients is that they provide an easy to use way of communicating presence: Out for a bit, Eating lunch, At work, On a conference call, Don't bug me, and so on.

But as of now, I count 4 different people on my buddy list who are using some sort of automated program to update their status every time their MP3 player switches to a new song.


I really don't care what you're listening to. If I did, I'd ask. I'd much rather know if you're available for an occasional question or interruption. But now if you wander off and leave your MP3 player running, I won't know that. Heck, even the IM client's built-in idle detection is probably fooled by this.

Maybe someone can clue me in a bit. Why do people do this? Do they think it makes them "cool" to abuse their status message with something that hides the info I'd probably want if I happened to look at their status? Or is there some "find the most annoying or useless way to screw with your IM status" contest going on?

Posted by jzawodn at April 20, 2004 11:03 AM

Reader Comments
# jon said:

to plant that song that you cant get out of your head, of course!

on April 20, 2004 11:10 AM
# Nico said:

lots of people don't understand the concept of presence, unfortunateley.

on April 20, 2004 11:13 AM
# Derek said:

Plenty of "status setting" scripts (such as iChatStatus for iChat) will allow you to do both "set the idle status" as well as "the string" ... for example, if I've got it running, but I go idle, my "STATE" will be set to the "Idle", but the "message" will be the now-playing.

You're confusing "message" and "status"... perhaps that's because Yahoo!Messenger doesn't have any differentiation really between the two, but AIM/iChat certainly does differentiate.

on April 20, 2004 11:19 AM
# Arcterex said:

Same with people on IRC who have some sort of script to spit out their current mp3 that is playing. Stupid, attention whoring IMHO.

"Staring at the Sun" - U2 - Pop

on April 20, 2004 11:21 AM
# tony said:

jeremy, don't you know self expression when you see it? what the heck is relativism anyway if it has to be explained, reasoned and justified. maybe they do it becuase they want to or it feels good. do they need any other reason in this day and age? if you don't like it, feel free not to have them on your buddy list. (It's not that I agree with this line of thinking. But I find it interesting that many who seem to...(YOU)..., get annoyed when it doesn't fit your paradym.

on April 20, 2004 11:21 AM
# Daniel Drucker said:

This is easy to explain. I'd wager that only males do this, and it's done for the same reason as people turn on music real loud, then point their speakers out their windows -- they think (perhaps not consciously, but still) that this will result in a female being attracted to them because of their obviously superior musical tastes.

on April 20, 2004 12:07 PM
# rayg said:

i still remember when you used to set your status message to 'taking shower', and other personal things ;-)

on April 20, 2004 12:45 PM
# Eivind Lie Nitter said:

The reason that _I_ use iChatStatus to display what I'm listening to is that I like that others are doing it. I don't use IM for any work-related activities, so all the people in my buddy list are friends, which means that I often message them (or they message me) saying "ooh, I love that song" or "hey, could you send that over? haven't heard it in years!" or similar. It's a nice way of starting a conversation.

If I'm there and not too busy, I leave iChatStatus on. If I'm busy, I stop it and turn on a status saying I'm busy. If I'm not there, I stop the music, and after 10 minutes, iChat displays me as idle (or I manually put myself on away).
If I want to display a special message, I stop iChat and set that message as my status.

I'm assuming that people understand they can message me if my status is not away/busy/etc.
And I don't think it's cool or anything, I do it for others who thinks it's fun (as I do). It is, IMHO, an unobtrusive thing to do.

on April 20, 2004 02:47 PM
# david said:

I will laugh hard come the day when Jeremy's status message goes from 'meeting' to 'changing diapers'.

Just a thought of course. No suggestions there. *snicker*


on April 20, 2004 04:27 PM
# Seun Osewa said:

I'm only familiar with two status messages:
(1) Online
(2) Offline
"Busy" is particularly annoying, for me. Why should I be aware of your presence if you are unavailable?

on April 20, 2004 06:02 PM
# Chris Adams said:

I'm sure there's more than a little truth to Daniel's suggestion but it's not the only reason - I've had plenty of chats triggered by a track ("you should try this similar group", etc.). In one case it turned out that a coworker and I both had a common interest in fado and some of the more obscure latin-african groups (I'm not trying to score indie-points here - it's just stuff that you don't normally encounter in stores, on the radio, etc. and thus tend not to find new groups easily) - this might have come up in some other way but hadn't in the previous couple years. In my book anything which leads to me finding excellent new music isn't all bad.

on April 20, 2004 10:09 PM
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