Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2008 / 08 / 29 / add-meets-ocd

August 29, 2008


In the twenty odd years of my woeful existence on this planet, I have often been accused of possessing various socially undesirable qualities, none of which require rehashing here (lest I start crying). Very likely, attention deficit disorder was not one of them. Indeed, if there is any redeemable quality at all to my (necessarily futile) existence, it is that I can concentrate in the face of rampant distraction very well.

Except that I cannot. (Readers can now rest assured that my life has no redeemable quality whatsoever.) To clarify, my powers of concentration only function when I care about what I am doing. The slightest inclination of the tedious, idiotic, or onerous, and suddenly, I have more ADD than a five-year-old on a sugar rush freebasing with a spoon and lighter (what?).

The latter state is one in which I find myself today, faced (yet again) with the prospect of packing up all my possessions and moving to a new apartment. Worse still, when I get into these ADD moods, it tends to exacerbate my already strong tendency towards obsessive-compulsive behavior. So, with hours of packing left, tomorrow completely unavailable, and the movers arriving Sunday morning, I find myself tormented over why I have never dedicated time to my IM buddy list organization scheme. Someone needs to put me out of my misery.

Leaving aside suggestions that I ought to simply pull the trigger, this is a rather serious question. Buddy list taxonomy is just as crucial as Facebook rosters, right? Of course!

In the glorious mid-90s, when AOL Instant Messenger was all the rage, not this newfangled Jabber nonsense (Gtalk, for the technologically inept, uses the Jabber protocol), I only had three groups (and a much smaller list of buddies): Family, Friends, and Acquaintances. This served my purposes well; most high school friends belonged to the Friends group, while Acquaintances were those whom I disliked but who it made sense to track for one reason or another.

When I arrived in college, I decided it was best to separate out my college friends from my high school ones, so I went to four groups; Friends became Uni (my high school) and Cal. As college progressed, I began to subdivide my college friends into contexts as my buddy list grew unwieldy and keeping track of people became harder (e.g., Hall Staff, CalSO, ResComp).

The system, decaying to begin with, completely fell apart after college however. In San Francisco, I had initially added a group for those I met at work, but what was to happen when they left the company? Did it make sense to still retain them in the company context? I was baffled. Also, in the course of cavorting around San Francisco, I often became friends (if you know what I mean) with people who did not fit into any context at all; they were just people I knew in San Francisco.

About two years ago, I began supplementing my buddy list with locale-specific groups (e.g., San Francisco, New York, Chicago) to address this very problem. At the same time, I retained the organizational contexts (e.g., Chicago Law) of years past. Today, my list is an nasty amalgamation of inconsistent groups and pure nonsense. Or in other words, my carefully planned schema from high school has completely fallen apart! The horror!

Serious research (and by that, I mean, five minutes Googling while engaged in ten other activities) has yielded no good solution, only contributing to my (already) potent angst. I am totally miffed here. Should I go to a locale-based system? Should I retain the hybrid? Should I try something completely different? Should I just kill myself? I DON'T KNOW!

Consider this a cry for help, people.


Prognosis: you've gone around the bend. Treatment: kill yourself.

Rohit, don't kill yourself over this. There are better reasons to do so. For example, how you failed to close the deal again with the girl on the plane.

Just alias everybody with their real name, and then if you can't remember who somebody is, delete them.

Also, do you have the "(necessarily futile)" automatically added, or do you have an impeccable memory to include it?

The ideal solution would be to have labels instead of folders for all your contacts. This way, like in Gmail, each contact can be cross-listed into every category they fall in. Meaning if someone you went to Cal with also lives in SF, you could find them under either category. You're a programmer, I'm sure you can create such an instant-messaging program that lets you cross-list.

Add Comment





* required field

E-mail addresses will never be displayed. The following HTML tags are allowed:
a abbr acronym address big blockquote br cite del em li ol p pre q small strong sub sup ul