For whatever reason, at Etech, i switched from using Fire to using iChat. I also got conned into using a “real” picture of myself as my image (instead of a butterfly). So, every time i send a message, i see a chipper danah with fuzzy hat representing my text. This completely weirds me out.
What weirds me out more is to see my friends speak back to me. Two of my friends look like their in thinker pose. One has a childhood picture. One is whistfully staring out into nowhere and one is jumping out of a plane. They’re all smiling and looking far too chipper and proper for their own good.
As noted by my previous post, i spent the bulk of yesterday in a dreadful state. Of course, that didn’t prevent me from IMing. So here i am, moaning in bed, greasy, face as white as snow, slumped over IMing with an image that makes me look as chipper as ever. Even *i* can’t take myself seriously. On more than one occasion, a friend would ask how i was feeling and i would respond with something like “::moan:: dreadful…” and i knew that they were seeing the happy fuzzy danah saying this. Cue conflict at its most visceral state!
I regularly carry on a conversation with a friend whose pic makes him look like he’s in thinker mode. No matter how emotional he’s trying to be, i see that post and read him as calm and contemplative even though i know damn well that this is not his state. Ever.
The pictures in iChat weird me out.
So, when i express this to others, they often tell me to hook up a cam and make it an automatically evolving picture and i’m equally terrified. I am a multi-tasker; most of the time that i’m IMing, i’m doing something else as well. For simplicity, imagine that i’m carrying on two conversations. In one, i’m being professional and proper; in the other, i’m gossiping about my girl friend’s date from the previous nite. Why on earth would i want my gossip face revealed to my professional colleague? What fascinates me about IM is that i can be in two contexts simultaneously. My brain is quite capable of doing this, but physical constraints rarely allow it to happen in everyday life. IM is *fantastic* this way. If my picture were updating regularly, it would collapse those two contexts. And besides, the state of my room and/or dress is not for public consumption, particularly at the odd hours in which i’m likely to IM.
Actual faces are so powerful for identifying people. I can look at my IM buddylist and immediately recognize the folks that i know. But i get really screwy emotion detection from it too. When i’m in a grumpy mood and need support, i’d rather talk to the teddy bears, kitty cats and alien creatures than the chipper versions of my friends. I don’t read emotion into the abstract or non-human images nearly as much as the human ones…
iChat is reminding me of why i believe in abstract representations for conversations when cue conflict might be a problem. In any case, i’m going back to the butterfly….