I understand that some people use ICQ in addition to Instant Messenger. But I don't get the people who use it instead. It may be better quality, but I use what's universal. When someone asks me my ICQ number, that's like buying a Beta VCR and trying to rent the Matrix.

Because of this column, I get IMs from a lot of random people. I don't usually mind them, but what I do mind is when people get offended if the first thing I do is ask them who they are. In person, when someone starts talking to you, you're rude if you don't introduce yourself. On IM, you're rude if you do.

I think it's awesome that you can check your e-mail on your cell phone now. But using IM? Sure, it's great to be able to send a quick message to your friend. Of course, it'd be easier if you had some sort of phone handy…

Imagine if Shakespeare wrote with the same casualty that people use over IM? "2b or not 2b", "Where RU, romeo?", and "U 2, Brute?" just don't seem to carry the same weight as the originals.

Some situations call for being more casual than usual, and IM is definitely one of them. But using abbreviations like "4get" and "UR" is a bit too casual for any situation. Put it this way – if the rest of the world is wearing pants, it's not the best idea to sit around in your boxers.

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