Texas Tech University

Now Is the Time to Bring Back Away Messages


September 9, 2020

OneZero - In the glory days of online communication (2002 to 2009, in my rough, highly personal estimation), away messages were popular on AOL’s instant messaging service and acted a bit like digital Post-it notes stuck to a door: messages that would pop up next to a user’s handle indicating that a person was unavailable to chat. Yet they’ve largely fallen to the wayside, foregone in favor of constant connectivity that’s distracting and stressful.

Nick Bowman, PhD, an associate professor of creative media industries at Texas Tech whose research focuses on the psychology of communication technology, isn't convinced that away messages would be widely used if they were available because of how ingrained that always-on mentality is — or, at least, that's what he thought pre-coronavirus.

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