Is Instant Messaging Dying Out?

I remember when I first got into instant messaging. It was 1997, and I had just learned about ICQ, which is still around. There was AIM, and I don’t remember if Yahoo Messenger was around at that time. But ICQ offered just what I and my family members needed.

Through ICQ, I was able to connect my dad to all of his brothers and sisters, a couple of my cousins, and some friends I’d met through newsgroups. Later on, I had some friends I would talk to. We’d talk often, pretty much every night, and it was fun. Of course, ICQ tanked in a big way, but still, there are other instant messaging systems; even Facebook has one.

These days, I can’t find almost anyone who’s using instant messaging. It’s pretty much been replaced by Twitter and Facebook, and even a little bit by email. Sure, email was around back in ’97, but many friends wouldn’t use it for whatever reason.

Is instant messaging dying out, or am I just too old to have many friends who want to use it anymore? I ask that because it seems the people who say they still love instant messaging are all younger than 30. Obviously most of my friends are older. I only have one family member who still has an instant messaging account, and he’s rarely on. The friends I have accounts for almost never show up. There’s a couple of people I talk to sometimes during the day while they’re at work, and when I’m out of town my wife and I will try to have conversations through Yahoo (though I use Trillian), but that’s about it. I don’t even know anyone who uses Facebook’s instant messaging, though I’m sure there are people who do.

I also wonder if it’s why having Meebo on my business sites doesn’t seem to bring me much communications during the day when I hold office hours, which I announce on Twitter every once in awhile. I mean, one would think someone would take me up on the chance to speak to me live, but nope, doesn’t happen.

What are y’all thinking about this? Anyone else lamenting the demise of instant messaging, did you care, or have I just passed by the age where it makes sense for my friends and my business?

23 thoughts on “Is Instant Messaging Dying Out?”

  1. Mitch, I am not exactly a spring chicken at 66! I use SMS extensively and so do my friends and relatives as well as some of my business associates. Perhaps India is different!
    .-= Rummuser┬┤s last blog ..The Commonwealth. =-.

    1. Could be, Rummuser. I just can’t believe none of my friends are using it; that’s just freaky.

  2. I still use Trillian all the time. However I will note that there has been a significant decline in the number of my peers who use the service. I think more than anything SMS has taken over the roll of Instant Messaging. The fact that most of my peers have their phones stashed in their pockets or belted to their hip at all times has freed them up from being tethered to their computer.
    As an unintended consequence I find my peers getting out more, but paradoxically socializing less. Nothing gets my goat more than going out with my friends and having everyone whip out their phones and spend a large portion of the evening texting other people. Despite the fact that cellular technology has been embedding itself in our daily lives for over a decade now its still clearly apparent that cellular etiquette needs to be reviewed.

    1. You know Mike, I never even thought about texting replacing instant messaging, but you make a great point. Back in 2004 and 2005, when I was out of town a lot, my wife and I instant messaged each other almost every night. In 2008, I had text messaging while I was out of town, and the same at the beginning of the year, so instant messaging took a back seat to a degree. Maybe that’s it; freaked out now.

  3. Ahh, ICQ, that was the days ­čÖé

    I can even still remember my ICQ number, yet I can’t remember the exact birthday of my mother…. (shame on me!)

    Regarding IM, put me down for a “been there, done that!” sticker. I only use it for work, when I’m not working, I’m offline. If people want to talk with me, it’s email or facebook. I don’t want to be a “hostage of IM”, being expected to reply just because I’m online on IM. Which is also why, for maybe the past 10 years, I’m always liste as “not available” on IM, even though I actually am available. I prefer to initiate contact, rather than being contacted – on IM of course.
    .-= Klaus @ TechPatio┬┤s last blog ..Dots Gloves D200 Finally Arrived ÔÇô Quick Review & Video Demo =-.

    1. Good stuff, Klaus. I figure that’s how many people are, because it seems the only people I really talk to during the day, if I talk to anyone, are all at work.

  4. Mitch,

    I was never really on IM in the first place.

    As far as I am concerned, when I am on the computer, I am on the computer with the intention to get things done, and I never liked the thought of having to either get distracted from what I was doing or politely decline to engage in conversation with someone else who happens to be online – especially if I was at work (that said – work related IM chats are OK as far as I am concerned).

    For talking to friends, I prefer email or facebook, where I can finish what I am doing, then take a break and jump on and say something to a friend.

    So I personally won’t miss IM, if it is indeed in decline – given that I never used it in the first place!
    .-= Andrew┬┤s last blog ..Should jumps racing be banned? =-.

    1. It’s an interesting take on things, Andrew. If you were never into it then you’re not going to miss it. For me, it meant a connection with family that didn’t cost what it did to try to talk long distance with everyone. That, and I got to know some people that I’d have never had another way to get to know them. Still, things seem to have moved beyond that, and I guess I’ll be ready for it.

  5. The only people that seem to be on IM these days are my nieces that live in London (I’m based in the Midlands). Even then they are also on Facebook’s IM.

    My closest my work buddies and school friends seem to have ported to FB’s IM, but even then, either send me an email or inbox me through FB, I think this is so if I respond they can carry-on playing the 101 Facebook games that make-up the bulk of their updates.

    Lastly, my Wife and I survived a year of IM when I worked away from home and I could only get back at weekends, so although I don’t really use it anymore, IM has a fond place in my heart.


    1. Same here, Karl, though I really do hope it hasn’t totally gone away. Easy to hold conversations on IM and be doing other stuff.

  6. People have become less interactive actually if they use micro blogs. I still do have my friends hooked up over YM. It’s much faster. But I live in the text capital of the world so I guess I’ll just have to text them hehehe.
    .-= Rian┬┤s last blog ..Friendster Has a New Look ÔÇô Log on to Your Account =-.

    1. I don’t know if it’s less friendly, Rian, as much as just preferring another medium. Maybe less intimate, though.

  7. SMS and texting has definitely replaced IM.

    As the social platforms become more and more optimized for mobile phones, SMS via your preferred mobile site will become even popular. Twitter updates via SMS link to Facebook and MySpace and depending on other tools that you might use ( is a good example) you can propagate your text updates even further.

    It’s amazing how many SMS type IM’s I receive from family and friends that are following my updates–I’ve had to make sure not to send everything to my phone or it would vibrate non-stop.
    .-= Iceman Baldy┬┤s last blog ..Black Web 2.0 Introduces Blueprint ┬ź Black Web 2.0 =-.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Iceman. However, I thought people could still do messaging through their cell phones. I have something on mine that I’ve never used, which is why I thought that.

  8. Hey Mitch,
    Instant messaging is still alive. It all depends if the people will integrate it into their daily lives or not. It really is about each individual lifestyle. I’ve found though that talking while working helps to keep the boredom away. I do this on Skype a lot.
    But my family still hasn’t figured out how to use it.
    All the best,
    .-= Eren Mckay┬┤s last blog ..Delicious carrot soup recipe =-.

    1. Thanks Eren. You know, I’ve fought Skype, and logically I can’t figure out why. And I pop into Twitter & Facebook when I need a break from work during the day, but I should keep my messaging on since I use Meebo for my business websites.

    1. Sire, I’m trying to imagine how many people you’d be talking to in the first place? lol For me, it worked because my family wasn’t close as far as distance goes.

  9. I’m still using I’m now. When I’m actually in front of my computer working, I rarely open my facebook and other accounts to get things done faster. So, I just make use of IM and people would just give me a buzz. Although the people on my list who are online had already lessened unlike before.
    .-= Jeff@Short Sales in Las Vegas┬┤s last blog ..Hard times for Hi-Rise lender =-.

    1. It’s almost a shame, isn’t it Jeff? I mean, there are many other ways to reach people now, but IM had its own sense of charm.

  10. Hi Mitch, M agree with u.. instant messaging is decreasing day by day. Especially new generation prefer using twitter and face book.


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