I spent my fair share of time in high school using AIM, and once I got to college it became a staple of my lifestyle. And I'm sure you know what I'm talking about because I'm willing to bet that 99% of the people reading this got here via the link in my buddy info. Anyway, it's like that for most other people and I find that fascinating.
It's fascinating because we all treat it the same way. We all know each other's typical away messages, we all use online information as fodder for gossip ("it's like there's a mass-IM button on that computer"). "What's your screenname?" is just as common as "What's your number?".
It's an amazing form of expression. You can let people know as much or as little as you want--your info can have anything you want; your away message can be a random phrase--Rollercoaster ride greetings, popular quotes, a joke, a personalized message--or it can simply be, "away."
Thinking about it today, I signed off and decided I just didn't want to put myself out there right at this moment. I didn't want to let anyone know how I was feeling or what I was up to. Funny how a few sentences in a pop-up window can make you feel that your privacy is being invaded. Is that weird? I just couldn't help it. I guess I'm just in a weird place right now. I guess I just need a break.