Impact of Instant Messaging on Society

Keywords: society instant messaging, im impact, messaging impact

Instant messaging can be defined as a type of internet communication tool that holds up two or more people logged on to an instant messaging service. (Jiang, 2006) In early 1990s, many people started using internet and creative developer created a chat-room like software for people around the world to communicate with each other in real time. That’s when Instant Messenger started to be popular after a well-known company, Mirabilis, introduced ICQ stands for “I seek you” in November 1996, a free instant-messaging utility that allows people to chat whenever the client is running and on-the-line. In 1997, American Online (AOL), considered the pioneer of the online service community, gave its users the ability to talk in real time with each other through chat rooms and instant messages and acquired Mirabilis and ICQ in June 1998. In general, the ICQ model is the basis for most instant messaging utilities on the market today. (Tyson & Cooper, 2001) Due to the extensive use of instant messaging, it is so beneficial to people to build relationship and extend their social network around the world. However, IM could cause some negative effects to the society which by then affects the industry eventually.

Most of the instant messenger has fundamental functions that include instant messages, file-sharing, voice conversations, sounds and streaming content. Instant messages allow two or more online parties to engage in correspondence. File-sharing allows people to share files with their peers by sending the files directly through IM windows. Voice conversations provide the feature of communicating through microphone in the internet. Sounds function allows user to play the sound for entertainment purpose. Streaming content is where recent news and events happen to notify user through video contents. (Jiang, 2006) Example of instant messaging are MSN messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, etc that are available for free downloads today.

Instant messenger exists as a great communication tool and affects directly towards the society and industry. The implication of IM maybe for IT industry is because of instant messaging is so popular; it affects mobile phone industry to acquire the application for user convenience. Smart phone is the evolution from mobile phone that has the Instant Messaging feature. (Beale, 2005) For example, Blackberry Messenger is one of the mobile IM applications that allow users to communicate with each other as long as it is connected to the BlackBerry Pin System. (Dannenfield, no date) Technically, one of the implications of IM maybe for the industry is the lesser productivity of workers in the workplace if they were distracted by the IM’s interruption. Due to the presence awareness, indicating whether other users are connected to the network in IM, workers tend to get interrupted by the availability of their peers. Besides, ‘IM encourages polychromic communication that it might contribute to an environment in which people frequently engage in multiple simultaneous conversations.’ By then, it would lead to mass disruptive of message notification and chatting conversation that would greatly reduce worker’s opportunities to focus the task at hand. (Garrett & Danziger , 2007) Thus, once worker’s productivity is affected, it leads to the downside of industry. Although interruption is the main source of concern, not all forms of interruption are harmful and certain interruptions are beneficial to the work. Garrett and Danziger (2007) listed the example of Hudson saying that ‘managers often prefer the timely if disruptive delivery of critical information over delayed delivery, because it allows them to make more informed decisions and to intervene before an issue in the work domain becomes unmanageable’ On the other hand, ‘Security and confidentiality are also at risk when using freely-available IM software.’ (Garrett & Danziger, 2007) Most of the IM does not implement the enterprise-version to the business around the world. Thus, most of the corporations would be at risk because consumer’s IM application would bypass corporate authentication through the network and allow malicious threat to penetrate if intended attacks or stealing information are planned by the anonymous. For example, messages log can be recorded or even voice conversation can be eavesdropped that includes sensitive data (Stone & Merrion, 2004)

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Instant Messaging is undoubtedly causing big impacts whether it’s good or bad to the society today. Having a conversation through the medium (IM) that could result in misunderstanding of opposed participant message due to the lack of non-verbal language. However, user tends to be more open during the conversation in IM compared to talking over a phone. It is because chatting through IM medium is more relax and does not need facial expression that create uncomfortable feeling for those users who lack of social skills. (Garrett & Danziger, 2007) Instant messaging affects student academic performance too. According to O’Conour(2006) in Instant Messaging: Friend or foe of student writing? claims that students use inappropriate English as in bad grammar, poor punctuation and improper abbreviation in academic writing. For example, word like “you” is substituted with “u” and “are” is substituted with “r”. This problem occurred is because of students are already used to the word they used in IM subconsciously. Additionally, procrastination tends to be another problem to the students. Nachbour(2003) supported one of the views of Cooper saying that ‘students procrastinate by chatting with college friends – even those who live within walking distance’. Student tends to get lazy based on what Cooper has described and in fact affects their academic performance. On the other hand, instant messaging fosters the ability of multitasking on students. College students are very busy people who need to do a lot of work in a day including, assignments, sports, events, or even eating dinner with a book while talking with people. (Marquez, 2003) According to Grinter (2003, p.25) supported by Marquez, ‘IM conversations do not require that the student focus all of his/her attention on the conversation at hand which allows the student to multitask and talk to other students in multiple IM conversations.’ By that example, it is true that instant messaging helps the students to multi-task their daily work.

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Some report says that ‘instead of having to physically visit their friends or call them on the telephone, they can simply send a quick message and expect a timely response.’ (Nachbour, 2003) while other says that ‘College teens reported using IM to communicate with roommates and housemates rather than meeting face-to face or overtly disrupting them’ (Grinter & Palen, 2002) Additionally, during the workplace, ‘the software developer turns off the “auto-idle” features, because often he is around yet not using the computer, incorrectly creating the impression that he is away from desk.’ (Patil &Kobsa, 2004) That cause another conflicts among co-workers. Based on the availability of IM whether they are on the status of ‘available’, ‘busy’, ‘away’, Guidry (2004) supported the view of Whittaker and Bradner that ‘those who use IM often believe they have a more intimate knowledge of their fellow IM users’ schedules and habits due to this automatic monitoring and reporting.’ It is clear that IM has affected the users so much in their everyday life.

In conclusion, Instant Messaging intension is to benefit the people around the world to communicate with each other. However, it is based on how the user is going to use it. Some people like students use it to communicate with friends for long distance conversation while others use it to procrastinate their assignment by chatting with their friends. Some corporate use it to communicate among co-workers to produce efficient work while other workers use it for stealing time from work. Things we can prevent like security issue – confidential information should not be sent using IM to prevent anonymous attacks. Instant Messaging is so varies as if it’s good or bad depends on the choice of human being.

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