This article in the Washington Post is actually a fairly interesting look at the sociological impact of away messages.
It does take a pretty big chunk out of the article to explain what away messages are, and it does have the rather macabre beginning of an away message suicide note.
But the rest of the article is pretty interesting. One quote in particular struck me:
“If you can’t imagine letting your 150 closest friends know that you’re in the shower, it’s a good bet you’re 30 or older.”
It never really occurs to you that it’s weird to do that if you and most of your friends do it on a regular basis. At least until you read a sentence like that.
Of course, in reality, it’s only about the 15 people who are constantly signed on and checking others’ away messages (guilty!) who see your away message.
That, and your paranoid parents, who try to read your away messages like the Rosetta stone of your life, and send you three emails if your web connection dies and you’re offline overnight.
Or perhaps that’s just my dad.