Salsa Scoop> tag: ”blog:politesse“

Small Accommodations for Technology

It's a tiny thing, after all. A little callus on the thumb, a little path worn through the garden ... the visible tokens of the concessions we make every day to plug a malleable soul into the life its fleshy prison shambles through. Most of the time, one only notices the smallness of one's niche within the range of human experience in the face of some jarring contrast. I caught myself in a bit of that the other day, and when I stepped back to examine it, it struck me kind of funny. We use a Jabber installation for internal IM, to which I connect along with various other services with Pidgin. My normal m.o., to keep my screen uncluttered, had been to shut down chat windows awaiting a pending response, counting on my correspondent to pop it open when and if they answer and I need to pay attention to it again. Jabber, as one can see, gives one's correspondent a rather brusque message that sort of thing is done. "Left the conversation"! Just imagine excusing yourself from a tiresome party encounter with a line like that. (Don't think I haven't imagined.) Although it's never been the subject of conversation, and I'm not cut to the quick when it's done to me, some part of my sense of manners is aghast at sending that remark. I'm caught between a technical setting and a (dated?) social role. Result: I don't close my conversation windows now unless the conversation is clearly done. And I've started to carry the habit to my non-Jabber chats as well. Even though I know that between conflicting principles, I'm accommodating the wrong one.