Hide & Seek on a virtual playground

Just as I am getting prepared to do some research for my next blog post, I see my cousin popping up on messenger. His icon is marked green but I know he won’t talk to me. Why? Well, he doesn’t know I am currently connected because my setting says “appear offline”.

This makes me wonder: What is the use of wanting to appear offline while being online? Wouldn’t it just be simpler or more convenient not lo log into messenger, Skype or suchlike at all?  Or couldn’t I just set my setting to “busy” if I can’t be bothered with answering any instant messages?

One of my personal reasons for acting that way is that I get easily distracted when talking to people when having other things to do besides. Furthermore, many of them ignore the “busy”- status nowadays since it has become so common. But if I am “offline”, I get to focus on my primary tasks and still do not miss on who is signing in and out. That way, I still have the possibility to talk to the people who are clearly available, if I want to.

This whole issue also makes me reflect on prestige and its link to internet presence. On the one hand, people who are constantly online, available and posting about their dog’s favorite shampoo and the like, easily evoke the impression of having too much time or of not dedicating it to anything “important”. But on the other hand, an increased usage of IT can also contribute to reinforce the image of an influential person, for example in the case of a business person.

An option that caught my attention in this connection is the so-called “Fake Call App” provided for the iPhone.

This application contains a wide range of personalization possibilities for preprogrammed calls that may be helpful to get you out of a boring business bunch or a dodgy date.

Just imagine you are stuck in an unpleasant situation and you would like to leave as politely as possible. That is when this device comes in handy. You discretely press a button and wait for the phone to ring shortly afterwards. There is even a way to select the fake caller’s ringtone, voice, name, picture etc. – all of this beforehand, of course. For more details on how it works, see here.

In Paolo Coelho’s novel “The Winner Stands Alone”, the author describes how this application is deliberately used by business men, film directors and so on in order to make themselves seem important, if judging by the amount of calls they receive. Another method they apply is pushing the fake calls away during negotiations in order to put pressure on the other party and force them to take fast and rash decisions. This seems to be quite an elaborated strategy, doesn’t it?

It amazes and scares me at the same time to see the kind of inventions that are currently out there. But in the end, IT just tries to keep track with the development of humanity, including both its good as well as its evil sides.

3 thoughts on “Hide & Seek on a virtual playground

  1. Hey Ana 🙂
    I really have to pay you a compliment. You did a great job writing this text.
    How you discovered the meaning of a messanger status und the story behind it was very interesting and opened my eyes. I definitely could see your point and the iphone app emphasized it even more.
    I really would like to read more about it – so give us more od this great stuff. How new technology can be used for different purposes in business life like in the novel is a totally new approach for me to see this world. Thanks for that!
    Very nicely written and very good story!

  2. Dear , lovely Ana!
    I enjoy reading your posts as I love the way you write so vividly as if you just sat next to me over a tea. As if we were talking about this strange development due to our messenger activity and the strange ways of dealing with it…if we “actually don’t want to talk” 😉 I catch myself doing things like appearing as “offline” in skype or msn aswell, nearly for the same reasons.. especially to choose who I talk to… but what do we do this for? And I always wondered if there is really no one finding out that I am “bluffing”…
    I tried to find this out:
    did you know that there are tools which can detect an invisible ID ? In case you are a msn user you can check on your contacts with the help of the Online Yahoo Invisible Checker! I found a blog explaining the tool further (but somehow I refuse to use it…) :


    Hide and seek seems to never come to an end…. kind of creepy!
    Thanks for this informative and critical post!

  3. Ana, this is a great post! I would actually like to comment on several aspects and statements that you brought up. I must admit that I have my settings set as “appear offline” too – on skype and msn (which I do not really use anymore though). It opens automatically when I start my laptop and in 70 % of the cases I have things to do, which do not include social networking. But also when I do not have something to do it is so annoying when people write me that I do not feel like talking to at that moment. The problem is that most of my friends simply ignore the busy sign and that when I am online I do not have the courage to tell them that I am not in the mood. So there is only one option left for me: being offline and contact who I want at that moment. I wish one could do that on facebook too, because when I am offline I cannot see who is online. So if you ask me, facebook needs to do some changes there and I would guess that on average people have a lot more friends on facebook than on skype or msn.
    The fake call app is in my opinion funny, stupid and smart at the same time, depending on how it is used. It would be sad and stupid to make it look like other people are calling you, even though no one is, just so you appear to be more popular and `oh so wanted` ;). To use that while negotiations could actually really have a positive effect on the outcome and I can see how it stresses the other person and creates uneasiness, thus wanting to come to an end and give in. The professionals that have to negotiate probably make use of several mind tricks so why not also that? And using the app while having a date is simply awesome. When I started dating I had my best friends call me and we developed code words and if it was bad I pretended I had to leave for some – of course important- reason. I wish I had an iPhone back then, it would have been easier 😉

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