Does anybody else remember IRC-ing with cyan font on a black screen? The black screen in front of a huge, bulky monitor?
I know my first taste of IRC was in the computer lab in my first year of university. My nick was 'Forever' and I somehow found myself an IRC friend called 'Endlessly'. I had no idea at all who this person was and of course no way of knowing if whatever he/she said was true but we IRC-ed every single day, for hours. This person was a buddy! Eventually, I started chatting with my real life friends as well. And now, much older, I definitely don't chat with anybody that I don't know in the real world.
I don't know about other stay-at-home moms but Instant Messaging is my best friend. Some days, its the only form of adult conversation I have. I don't do Facebook or Twitter and blogging is for other reasons so IM is where I go to virtually hang out with my friends. There are a few that I chat with on a daily basis and then a range of them that I check in on every once in awhile when I feel like having the 'Its been awhile, what have you been up to' type of conversation.
My 'Daily Friends' are all overseas but its as if they are in the house with me. Its easy to have an easy conversation about nothing or a more meaningful one about the stresses of the day. I like to be able to provide some sort of support and a 'listening ear' (or at least a responsive IM screen) to my friends as well. And its also nice when they give me a little encouragement for my day.
Just the other day, I had Aaron and Adrian making a mess of the place while I was trying to get dinner ready. An old friend was online and telling me jokes that I would go read in between cutting up the carrots and celery. It was as if he was right there in the kitchen with me, lightening up a stressful, end of day, situation.
What I don't do is a video chat. That would just put the stress straight back into my life. I would have to look good. The background would need to be presentable. And, I can't be shoving the kids away when I want those few extra minutes of chatting. Come to think of it, I don't like using the voice function either. I just like the flexibility that typing my words gives me.
So, thank you to whoever it is that invented IM-ing. It supposedly pre-dates the internet but I don't have time to do thorough research for that name now. What I can tell you is that, according to Wikipedia, a man named Alexander 'Sandy' Trevor created the first dedicated online chat service in 1980.