When someone is dead, they are dead to everyone. While this is crass, it is nonetheless true. It is something that I have accepted, even if it is hard to imagine. I make believe that I can fill the vacancy that others leave behind with pictures and memories and stories. I try to convince myself that the relationships are still exist on some plane, even if they are more one sided than they used to be. And yet, their absence continues to creep in even as I remember the best parts of my life with them. I am forced to acknowledge the loss, just as everyone must. It is healthy and right.
It is not the same with an idea.
Even if I have declared an idea to be dead and gone through all of the stages of grief, it will still continue on for some. It may even thrive with others at the helm. The death of an idea is not universal. We do not all have to simultaneously agree to let go. And the worst part of this is that sometimes even if we have proclaimed something to be dead it may iterate and come back to us as something once again worthy of our time. With enough support, an idea can come back from the dead with ease.
When it does, we have a choice. We can either reconsider the idea and work with it anew or we can continue to convince ourselves of its death. We can call it a death knell or final acts of desperation. But, we can only do that for so long. An idea that continues to present itself must be face head on. It must be brought back into the fold and given its rightful place among our daily workflows.
I left Instant Messages for dead. I left them in high school. I left them with AOL instant messenger. I left the instant communication of text when I started blogging. I left the transient communication of messages when everything on Twitter started getting chronicled and became searchable. I left Skype when I could embed video conferencing anywhere and it was no longer a novelty. I left the simple back and forth conversation along the side of the road. I thought everyone had too. I thought that everyone else had grown up with me. They had come forward and agreed that official communication would be the way that business is done. Years of seeing nothing in the way of instant gratification and collaboration had convinced me that I was right to hold a funeral for the IM.
Now though, I am being forced to reconsider. I have participated in no fewer than a few hundred messages per day for the last two weeks. If I want to engage, I must reconsider the Instant Message as having value. I must exhume my expectations for what communication looks like. I must reassess just how fast things can move. And I have.
This idea seems trivial. It isn’t.
I had buried what was possible because of what I saw all around. Because of those who denied the existence of continuous access to colleagues and relationships, I denied it too. It took a new group of people who saw the leaving and breathing ideal of constant contact as a virtue. I have now reconsidered the IM.
I am now back in my basement in high school, talking with my friends about what I find important. It just so happens that what I find important now is more than music and Saturday night.
- Facebook’s messaging: Rise of the IM generation (tech.fortune.cnn.com)