Skyping: An anthropology…
How intrusive do you feel when you ring someone up on Skype? Or, like me, do you fire up a chat screen and tentatively say ‘hi’ instead? What is it about actually phoning someone on their computer? I mean, how is it different to calling them on their landline, or mobile? Is a Skype chat, or MSN chat for that matter, the PC equivalent of sending a text message? What’s wrong with a virtual nudge?
I for one feel a bit rude if I just randomly phone someone on Skype, even though they’ve agreed to share their contact details with me. Maybe it’s because I know they may be working. But is that any worse than phoning them on their mobile? They could be out, or watching a film, or eating – disturbing is disturbing, whatever the circumstances and whatever tool you use.
A few other Skype-type things that I wonder about when I have nothing better to do, or when I can’t sleep at night:
How do you politely end a call which isn’t costing anybody anything?
Is it insecurity which drives people to display the number of contacts they have?
Is there any logic behind profile photos (or distorted human/animal-spliced images – you know who you are, Justin). What does this say about people? And should we avoid sharing our contact details with them?
How, why, when and how often are people drifting around on-line in ‘invisible’ mode? And should we be worried?
What do most of the little messages mean which people choose to display next to their contact names? (And don’t ask me what mine means, either)
When people say they’re Busy or Away, are they really?
Would anyone at Skype HQ be willing to give me money to find answers to these questions? I have many others if they’re interested.
On the plus side, though, at least someone being off-Skype doesn’t raise suspicion. Switch off your mobile phone at your peril…