Adam with his mop top.
The first time I chatted with someone on a computer was over Unix talk in the mid 1980's. It was really cool, but invariably with someone within close proximity (think huge terminal lab at MIT), so it was more of a novelty than anything. It wasn't until the late 1990's when a co-op student showed me AOL Instant Messenger at work. He used it to chat with his friends from school. Soon, most of my friends and I were on it as well (I was the pioneer pushing it onto many skeptics). A technological communications door that I always had imagined had just been opened. Not as disruptive as a phone call and not as slow as email.
Instant messaging was used so prevalently at my last job, it was perfect for tele-commuting because people didn't know whether they were chatting with someone in the next cube or at home. When I started at my current job, IM simply wasn't allowed. I did it on the sly with my old friends but slowly, all the ports for AIM and MSN Messenger were closed down. The only thing left is Skype now. There is corporate IM for work, which is helpful, but not used to the degree that I had in my previous job.
When Adam was born, I couldn't wait until he was old enough to use the computer so I could chat him from work. Maybe by age 6, I thought. But as he got older, I became more and more wary of subjecting him to the good and evils of the internet. I have yet to give him an email address to spare him the pain of spam. He does not need to know about penis enhancements and Nigeria! Besides, he needs to learn how to talk properly with his friends on the phone first. But on the computer, he has fallen into the world of online video games which he plays with his friends, real and virtual.
Yesterday, for the first time at age 9 1/2, I installed Skype on his computer and we finally had our long awaited chat. I enjoyed it immensely. (Screenshot edited slightly for clarity and privacy.)
I was impressed by his nearly perfect spelling and punctuation. I broke him in with my casual IM way. Since I always refer to him with the (emo) emoticon to Doug, I had to share it with Adam.
Me: this is youHe is still the sweetest boy ever, even on chat. Does my heart good.
Adam (later): you are