I'm starting to get conversation fatigue! What to do?

I have this friend, whom I really do like associating with, and whom I get along with just fine when we’re together IRL (though we’re VERY different people).

However, we mostly talk to each other over instant message, 'cause that’s just the way our lives our working out, even though we live relatively close to each other. Trouble is, he gets hurt, and feels ignored, if I’m not conversing with him every time he’s on for the majority of that time. He does actions that, though they don’t seem innocuous just from reading, he’s made clear before are meant to say “Hey, I’m still here! Why are you so quiet??? TALK TO ME NOW!!!”, and has expressed offense at being “ignored” before.

I think this has directly led to a minor neurosis I’ve had in the past where I was afraid to let ANY Internet conversation lull, one that took me a bit to get out of. I don’t know what to do at this point; I simply CAN’T keep a conversation (especially the substantive ones he wants) going when I see this guy online at SOME point practically EVERY night. I’m getting frustrated to the point where I hope I don’t see him online, and I’m RELIEVED those times he falls silent on his own. And that makes me feel horribly guilty.

(ETA: Of course, he’s not the only person I know who uses AOL IM, so I feel like simply not logging onto it occasionally is a last resort.)


Logged on and Invisible! “Whoops, sorry, I’ve been out. What’cha need?”

(ETA: There IS an invisible/hidden mode on AOL, isn’t there?)

There’s a way to make yourself invisible on your buddy list. I found out about this when I had a friend who I wanted to talk to, but I was too lazy to see if she was online, so I just typed her screen name in in a New IM window and it turned out she was hidden. She was shocked that I found her, of course. Anyway, that sounds like exactly what you need.

Can’t tell you how to do it in the default AIM client, but most reputable third-party clients (gaim, deadaim, trillian) should do it.

The problem with that, of course, is that a similarly-lazy or suspicious friend can do the same thing, and probably will at some point. I had one of these “must IM constantly” people bugging me, and one day when I wanted someone else to see I was online, but not him, I came up with the plan of temporarily “blocking” this one guy so to him I’d look offline but not to others. I’d intended for it to be very temporary, less than an hour, but it only took him 20 minutes after me telling him I had to go offline for a while for him to check up on me. :rolleyes: I got a very offended “HOW COULD YOU?!” type of chewing out from him, and that was pretty much the end of my AIM use. I saw too many people who were using it as practically some kind of “pay attention to me” device and demanding time from others.

But if being “hidden” is that easy to defeat, this friend is going to find you and then just get more hurt. This problem does not have a technological solution. You need to actually tell this person that you are not on this planet for their sole benefit.

And then you get the type (again, a good person, and a real-life friend) who find one online, then because they find the online IM thing a bit tedious( translation = just not very used to it yet) try to demand that I get off line and talk to her on the 'phone instead. Now, fine, sometimes, and quite often we do have long chats on the 'phone,but IMing with that one person was not the ONLY reason I was online, and I found the insistent tone really quite annoying.

I couldn’t find a solution better than for me to become invisible, or for me to block people temporarily at times. Grrrr. That felt a bit rude, but, well, that “give ALL your attention to ME, NOW!” thing is pretty rude too. :frowning: Particularly coming from someone in pretty much the same country with whom I do have regular 'phone chats, so it’s hardly as though she has not heard from me for a while.

I will be following this thread with great interest. :smiley:

I hate IM. I only have it installed because it is how I communicate with my husband at work. I have a dedicated connection to the internet so it always shows me as online. So the number of “why aren’t you answering me?” questions always drive me nuts.

I now have it set to where I’m always away. And I still get annoyed.

If you ask me, IM programs are the most annoying feature ever. You can not answer your phone if you choose, you can not check your email if you choose, you can not answer your door if you choose, but a stupid program that tells everyone every time you touch your keyboard? Egads, I hate 'em.

I’m on pretty much all the time, but I’m always also invisible-- the trick here is not that they know whether you’re logged on, but whether you’re idle or not. “Yes, I’m logged on but I’ve been at lunch. I do have a life, you obsessive freak.” Or give your status a fake “away from the desk” red light.

My vote is also for telling your friend flat out that you talk to him when YOU want to talk to him, not when he demands your attention. Damn but that would annoy the living piss out of me. Sometimes you just have to spell it out for people; take them by the hand and show them exactly where your boundaries are. Or you could just ignore his attention demands and get back to him when it’s convenient for you. What’s he going to do - come to your house and punch you in the head?

AIM allows you to block everyone but those on your buddy list, so just check that option and then remove the guy from your BL. It may be a little tedious, but it ensures that he can’t log onto another SN and see that you blocked his original one.

You think so? I just lucked out–happened to type her screenname in because it was the one I could remember off the top of my head first without looking at my buddy list. I was as shocked to find that she was hidden as she was to find that I had IMed her.

What’s stopping you from closing your IM client when you don’t want to be reached?

Sounds like you have your IM application set to start when the computer starts AND log you in. It doesn’t have to be that way (although I know MSN and AIM, at least, do this by default). Look around in options/preferences to turn this “feature” off and only log in when you are actually online and wanting to talk.

This is what I don’t understand. I don’t even answer the front door if I don’t want to be bothered (though I do look to make sure it’s not someone in a uniform knocking :)).

Another vote for blocking.

I mostly don’t IM anymore, but when I did a lot, I would think before I got on… ok, who would I really not mind talking to tonight? And then I would set up my client to block everyone except those people.

Alternately, you could just tell the person to chill out. Tell 'em you got online to do other stuff, and you’ll talk to them as you can and feel like it, but please don’t take it personally when you’re quiet, because you’re doing other things. If they persist, just level with them. “Look, so-and-so, I really do like you and I like talking to you. But you flipping out when I don’t respond immediately is immature and it’s really starting to get annoying. Please chill out.”

Is it possible this person has a romantic interest in you? That’s the only reason I can think of for getting so offended at not getting your undivided attention, online or off.