Once upon a time, in a bygone era, a gentleman would be merrily winding his way down a country lane on his penny farthing, when he would meet the vicar’s wife unexpectedly. Dismounting from his saddle, he would engage the lady with talk of his family and general well-being. This verbal exchange was an example of the first incarnation of live chat. And in real-time, no less. Let’s call this live chat 1.0.
Fast forward to the 21st century. A time when technological developments are so swift that it’s difficult to keep abreast of the latest progress. But safe to say that our lives feel greatly enriched by the myriad of new advances. Everything seems quicker and more efficient. How could we ever cope without such incredible inventions?
But then comes along a widely adopted tool that is actually a backward step. I bring you live chat 2.0: for the customer service operatives who just can’t be bothered to answer a telephone; for the teenager who’s grown tired of prefixing every verbal exchange with “like” or long sighs. Live chat 2.0 is, like, sooo cool. You can spend three times the duration it takes talking (old-school) to someone by ‘chatting’ via your keyboard. It’s just so convenient! Hell, the teenagers can even roll their eyes through the power of touch typing. Or roll on the floor laughing. Just like the real thing.
Well, no, it’s not like the real thing actually. As I found to my frustration when attempting to reset both my Yahoo and Ebay passwords after my accounts were hacked, ‘chatting’ to ‘Emma’, my ‘representative today’ was incredibly inefficient, as we had to wait whilst each other typed responses. As it transpired, Emma had an impatient demeanour, and deemed it necessary to interrupt me as I logged-in to reset my account with the new password she had sent me… to ask me to confirm that I was logging-in to reset my account with the new password she had sent me.
Well, duh! What do you think I would be doing? What not ask me to confirm that I am still breathing, whilst you’re at it Emma? A mere 20 minutes later, after I had successfully persuaded her to hold her horses and let me continue the process, the Yahoo status quo had prevailed. This would have taken two minutes on the telephone.
In a social live chat 2.0 interaction, if you have made the mistake of not adjusting the live chat settings, anyone who notices your online status can catch you with an inane ‘conversation’, just when you least expect it. You may have just taken a minute to check your Facebook news, but now you have to spend more valuable minutes waiting for a dyslexic one-finger typist who you once met at a wedding, that now wants to ‘catch-up’. Okay, fine. It’s good to keep in contact, right? Well, not when this person has the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD.
I give you exhibit A, taken from an actual live chat transcript (with a fully grown man):
Imran – Been awhile. How goes it?
Me – Hi mate, things are going well
start my masters course on mon –
Imran – oh thats good
Well, ups and downs.
Weather is shit
Me – really?
Imran – yea
oh, just received two RC hellicopters
So am gonna play with them for a few mins
Me – okay then…