Lately there’s been a clamoring for my wife and I to get on board with China’s most popular instant messenger and chat service, known as QQ. Most of the demand is fueled by our imminent relocation to the United States.
I’ve been resisting. Not just due to the fact that I find most IM chats inane or flippant, but also because it would open the floodgates for unmitigated hounding. I know that as soon as I install QQ on my computer the incessant updates, pinging, and friend requests would quickly lead me to regret this decision. And while I’m hesitant to deride the overall value of IM services (I use Skype to chat almost as often as I use it to make calls), I have reservations about this particular software.
The world is more interconnected than ever, and there is certainly a premium on privacy. And I don’t mean privacy in terms of physical space, but instead privacy in terms of a canopy that can shield me from phone calls, text messages and emails. As much as I rely on these modern means of communication, I also lament being reachable at every minute of my day. Sometimes I just need respite. But then again, don’t we all?
When it comes the looming possibility of logging on to China’s powerhouse of online chatting, my feelings are largely negative. I feel as if I would invite a plethora of tertiary and tenuous connections into my daily routine that might quickly overwhelm an already strained attention span. This is the crux of the problem. I don’t really loathe the software that is as annoying as it is ubiquitous (in this case, QQ), but I value my brain’s capacity for focus, memory and attentiveness. On the whole, those are pretty nice things to have. At one point it actually came down to slashing major bulkheads from my online vista. I’ve stopped visiting facebook in the last year, and while it may have made my virtual world smaller, it has greatly streamlined my time and focus when I’m online.
It must come down an analysis of numbers. If I’m genuinely concerned about the amount of new contacts I might rack up with the addition of a service like QQ, and the subsequent devotion of time it might consume, I have to do some networking calculus.